Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski
Distributed by WWE Studios and Anchor Bay Entertainment
In Douglas Aarniokoski’s bleak post-apocalyptic tale The Day, we pick up in the world ten years after an undefined disaster has struck, leaving life as we know it nothing more than a faded memory. Supplies are scarce throughout the US, which has forced those who have survived this long to make a difficult choice- either join cannibal clans in order to eat and survive or do your best to survive on your own if you can.
At the start of The Day, we’re introduced to a group of five survivors who are looking for the proverbial promised land, a place to settle down and start new by planting some rare vegetable seeds they have managed to hang onto over the years. But they’re low on ammunition and food, they haven’t had any rest in days, and one of the group’s members is extremely sick.
Group leader Rick (Dominic Monaghan) breaks protocol and decides the group should stop and hole up in an abandoned farmhouse they find along their travels. After all, one of their group members is sick, and the rest could surely use a few hours off their feet. Well, all except the newest member, a grisly warrior gal named Mary (Ashley Bell), who always seems to be on alert and ready to fight, patrolling the property while the others let their guard down to rest and look for supplies.
But of course (as we all know), letting their guard down ends up being the downfall of the group as their arrival at the farmhouse doesn’t go unnoticed by a local clan of cannibals led by a maniacal leader who’s known only as “Father” (Michael Eklund), and soon the survivors find themselves under attack, the house their only line of defense in what ends up being the ultimate test of their very will to survive The Day.
In terms of indie fare, The Day is a prime example of just how a filmmaker can make a limited budget and resources work to his advantage by having the right talent in front of and behind the camera. Aarniokoski’s handling of Luke Passmore’s script is masterful, allowing for tension to build without ever relying on huge set-ups or a ton of exposition either; he keeps the film’s pacing steady throughout, even up to the final moments.
Also enjoyable iss how both Passmore and Aarniokoski manage to keep you guessing throughout the film; they push to the side many of the usual post-apocalyptic tropes and deliver a new story. While it may draw comparisons to films like Assault on Precinct 13 or The Road due to certain aspects of its story, The Day feels wholly new and fresh, which is remarkable considering the number of post-apocalyptic projects these days.
The ensemble of The Day all deliver knockout performances, especially Bell, who proves that her work in The Last Exorcism wasn’t a fluke. This gal has something, and whatever the role, she manages to keep you captivated even if she isn’t given a lot of dialogue to work with.
My only grievance with The Day is that I would have liked a bit more information on what exactly happened in the world – how these people came together, managed to survive for 10 years (no easy feat I would imagine) – just something else that would have given us a little more of a sense of where these characters came from.
So while The Day certainly isn’t a game changer by any means, it still remains a rather entertaining indie film that manages to deliver a few unique spins on a world that we’ve seen countless times before. With a talented director at the helm and an accomplished ensemble bringing Passmore’s taut and engaging story to life, those of you who like to revel in the world going to hell (like it does here) should find a lot to like about The Day.
3 1/2 out of 5