Jamie Foxx Enlivens Netflix’s Workaday Vampire Comedy Day Shift

4 minute read

Vampire entertainment is as eternal as vampires themselves, and from the ever-fertile dust of this genre springs Netflix’s Day Shift, in which Jamie Foxx plays Bud, a modern-day San Fernando Valley vamp hunter fallen on hard times. He and his wife, Joceyln (Meagan Good), have split, and Jocelyn is now threatening to whisk the couple’s young daughter, Paige (Zion Broadnax), away to Florida in the hopes of giving her a more stable upbringing. Bud doesn’t want that to happen. So he promises he’ll come up with the cash to pay for both Paige’s private-school tuition and her braces. But killable vampires have been thin on the ground lately. What’s a clever but demoralized vampire hunter and devoted dad to do?

Try to get back into the vampire-hunter’s union, of course, a group that had kicked him out earlier for numerous infractions. Day Shift is the story of a guy who’s able to reclaim his past glory—and get some of those all-important dental-insurance benefits—but it isn’t easy: union honcho Ralph (Eric Lange) doesn’t want to let him back in, but one of Bud’s old pals, a union member in good standing, advocates for him. That would be Snoop Dogg in a cowboy hat, and his appearance, as always, instantly improves the movie.

Day Shift's two not-so-secret weapons: Jamie Foxx as Bud and Snoop Dogg as Big JohnAndrew Cooper—Netflix

Day Shift, directed by J.J. Perry and written by Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten, is designed to be fast, gory and silly, and it’s all of those things. Perry, in the tradition of John Wick’s Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, is a martial arts expert and longtime stuntman now turned director, and he may not have the lightest touch. But is that really what you’re looking for? Day Shift has three things going for it, the first being its jaunty spirit and its reckless disregard for making any sense whatsoever. OK, maybe that’s two things, but you get the drift. The plot involves an evil real estate developer, Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza), who also happens to be a vampire; she hopes to see vampires rise to power once again, and to that end, has formulated a powerful sunblock that allows vampires to roam about in daylight.

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The vampires themselves are your usual garden-variety types, with pointy teeth, pale, warty complexions and the ability to contort their limbs into physiologically impossible positions. They’re also superfast, so it’s difficult to kill them, though it can be done via special silver bullets and certain modes of decapitation. (Even Dave Franco’s Seth, the hapless union rep charged with tailing Bud on the job, eventually masters some of the necessary skills.) The action scenes are choppy but brisk, and there’s plenty of cartoon blood-spurting, de rigueur in a work such as this.

Day Shift’s other two attributes are Foxx and Snoop Dogg, even though the latter doesn’t get as much screentime as I, and probably you, would like. He’s the most laid-back vampire killer imaginable, which also makes him one of the coolest, and his timing, always behind the beat by a perfect two steps rather than just one, is a thing of elegance. And Foxx is such a terrific actor that he sails with ease through even a rather jumbled movie like this one. Eager to be reinstated in his old union job, Bud swears, “I’m a changed man. I’ve cut out pork and cartoons, and minimal white women,” and Foxx’s sharp and sure delivery makes the line sing. Day Shift delivers everything it promises, which isn’t all that much. But Foxx goes above and beyond the call of duty, seemingly without even trying. Before you know it, his shift, and ours, is over, and the time has passed painlessly enough.

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