Day Shift, produced by John Wick series director Chad Stahelski, is the directorial debut of longtime stunt coordinator J.J. Perry (John Wick: Chapter 2, F9: The Fast Saga). In addition to the high level of action, the vampires in Day Shift are portrayed by Cirque du Soleil contortionists and performers. That results in a horror comedy that’s rich in style and action spectacle… but slight in content and laughs.
Jamie Foxx stars as San Fernando Valley pool worker Bud Jablonski. The pool cleaning profession is just a front for Bud’s career choice: a freelance vampire slayer selling vamp fangs for profit. Bud’s wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) has announced that she wants to take their daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax) to Florida, so he goes to see his friend Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg) to help him get back in good with the Union so that he can make some quick cash to keep his family together.
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Saddled with stodgy Union rep Seth (Dave Franco), Bud soon finds himself the target of ancient über-vampire Audrey (Karla Souza), putting all their lives at risk.
The screenplay that was written by Shay Hatten and Tyler Tice moves quickly from one set piece to the next as Bud attempts to protect his family in California while also concealing the fact that he is killing vampires. Because it moves at such a breakneck pace, nothing beyond its action sequences is given the time or space to develop.
After one particularly stunning combat sequence, Seth takes a moment to sit and reflect on the extraordinary conditions of a diverse assortment of vampires cohabitating while running down a list of vocabulary. Bud is aware that they are in a peculiar circumstance, yet he urges them to carry on to the following high-octane sequence.
The terse conversational interchange alludes to more extensive mythology, but this mythology is never completely explored, nor does it ever amount to anything significant in the narrative. A huge set piece in the third act also provides a visual suggestion of a history that is never actually addressed.
Day Shift is characterized by its low-pressure, straightforward gameplay. The flimsy narrative is nothing more than a means to move Bud and his friends through the different battles against the vampires. The attempts at humor don’t land as successfully as the action; a running joke about wetting one’s trousers becomes old, and Franco’s performance as the dumb sidekick isn’t quite as effective as it could be.
Except for a few brief but pleasant moments, it emphasizes how much of a presence Snoop Dogg has despite the fact that his role is only a supporting one. Big John delivers the fun and cool factor that would’ve made for a better buddy comedy partnership; Snoop Dogg’s laid-back attitude compliments Foxx’s fiery Bud well. Big John brings the humor and cool factor that would’ve made for a better buddy comedy combo.
Day Shift is an easygoing and breezy action comedy that pays continuous respect to The Lost Boys throughout its running time. The peculiar contortions and physicality of the vampires provide some visual flair to the scene, and there is innovative staging for many passages in which vampires are killed. Aside from that, it’s just a conventional, low-stakes tale of good vs evil with a few sketchy characters.
The major antagonist is never truly threatening, and there is never a moment when we doubt that Bud will come out on top. Due to a lack of development in both world-building and mythology, everything is kept at a distance. The excitement is enjoyable for the time being, but any new characters or story details at the surface level are really stepping stones meant to advance Bud farther along the path he has chosen. The result is a fun diversion that is serviceable but ultimately unremarkable.