Horror comedy, when executed correctly, is one of my favorite windows through which to experience genre filmmaking. Day Shift discovers a perfect tonal mix between campy comedy fun, vampy horror violence, and thrilling action, emerging as one of my favorite Netflix productions of the year. Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained, Baby Driver) fills the lead role with his signature brand of charm, and supporting turns from Snoop Dogg (Bones, Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror) as the swaggy “Black Cowboy” and Dave Franco (Neighbors, Fright Night) as the ditzy nerd nicely add to the ensemble. How to Get Away with Murder’s Karla Souza, who plays the villainous real estate Uber Vamp Audrey, serves as the wickedly intimidating Big Bad.
Bud (Foxx) only works as a pool cleaner with Valley Pool Services as a cover—secretly, Bud is an LA vampire hunter, and one of the best in the game! His bag of pool supplies have a secret compartment, hiding his big guns and metallic floss ready to slice the head off any brand of vampire. When Bud goes to pick up his adorable little 10-year-old daughter, Paige (Zion Broadnax), whom he refers to as Pickle, Bud’s ex-wife, Joss (Meagan Good, Saw V, 2005’s Venom), breaks some shocking news. Joss and Paige will be moving all the way to Florida with Joss’s mom unless Bud can come up with the $5,000 needed for Paige’s school tuition! For money, Bud pulls out the fangs of vamps he has dispatched, then sells them on the black market to a trashy store owner (Peter Stormare, Until Dawn, Constantine). The cash received is heavily reliant on the constantly fluctuating “Fang Index;” since Bud cannot sell directly to the big boys at The Union, he sells the literal shoes off his body to make for a portion of what he needs.
Unfortunately for him, Bud will have to go to The Union with his fangs if he is to have any hope of making the amount he needs to support Joss and Paige. Enter: Big John (Dogg), Bud’s “in” at the agency. Naturally, Snoop Dogg’s entrance comes complete with a giant cloud of smoke, and ends the same way, too. Bud has broken numerous codes and procedures, yet weasels his way in to an affirmative approval status. He must be accompanied by a “union rep” at all times whilst in the field. Thus, glasses-wearing workaholic Seth (Franco) enters the fray. For the first time, Seth is being nudged into fieldwork, despite repeatedly insisting to his superiors that he is not yet ready. The first time Seth is present when Bud slays a vampire, he throws up and pisses himself. The utter mismatch of Bud’s hardened, sarcastic personality instantly clashes with Seth’s uptight by-the-books attitude. Still, an adorable partnership is born as the duo makes a deal: Seth will give Bud through the whole weekend before reporting on any of Bud’s observed misdeeds to upper management, so as to give Bud ample time to collect the necessary funds he needs to “save his family.”
In the meantime, Valley Realty by Audrey is taking San Fernando by storm. Audrey (Souza) is swooping in on properties she needs to take her bootleg vampire-sunscreen operation to the next level. This includes killing anyone and everyone standing in her way! Audrey is steadfastly committed to “the future” of vampirism, to take back the daylight that has been robbed of them. Said to have “big plans for the valley,” it is up to Bud, Seth, and a rag-tag group of recruits to bring Audrey to justice, and take down a legendary Uber Vamp in the process!
From the very first scene, Day Shift is an absolute blast that had me grinning ear to ear. As Bud absolutely demolishes the demonic creatures in his path, it becomes nearly impossible not to have a great time. A combination of CGI and practical effects works wonders in keeping the bone-twisting horrors of the vampires themselves feeling tangible. The hand-to-hand action combat and kills are very John Wick meets Blade—brutal, impactful, and applause-worthy. No surprise there, considering first-time director J.J. Perry also served as stunt coordinator on John Wick and John Wick Chapter 2, The Dark Tower, and many more. Between epic car chases and slick decapitations, Perry fully lives up to his reputation and then some. A soundtrack punctuated by exciting hits and seemingly new tracks over the end credits left me reaching for my Spotify app in exhilaration.
My favorite element of Day Shift above all others is the dark humor. Never afraid to embrace the macabre and the ridiculous all in the same sentence, the script from Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten (John Wick: Chapter 3) happily embraces hilarious one-liners and over-the-top antics. Where else can one see Snoop Dogg wielding a gatling gun, absolutely demolishing everything in his path? How about an ass-kicking Foxx, or Franco waxing poetic over the intricacies of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2? There is truly nothing else like Day Shift, the likes of which we have not seen since maybe 1996’s From Dusk Till Dawn. Day Shift makes it so easy to envision franchise potential. One tease is so obvious, with the constantly-mentioned El Jefe left a dangling thread. I would love to see where this motley crew’s misadventures could lead them next!
Day Shift applies new sunscreen when it debuts exclusively to Netflix globally on Friday, August 12th.