Directed by Doug Aarniokoski
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Ah, 2012. With the end of the world quickly approaching, it was inevitable that this year would yield a few post-apocalyptic flicks to mull over while we wait for the sky to eventually fall. First up this year was The Divide, director Xavier Gens’ well-made, well-meaning but deeply flawed thriller.
The Divide wanted to be a parable of sorts, it seemed, but failed to fully connect when it became overly mired in its nihilistic excess. Then there was The Collapsed, a quite poor post-apoc flick that featured mostly irritating performances and lots of talking (and shouting, and cursing), but little in the way of good writing or depth. And now, finally, we’ll ring out the year with The Day, a film that falls somewhere in between the aforementioned two on the quality scale.
Helmed by Douglas Aarniokoski, director of Highlander: Endgame and Animals (oh, dear), The Day concerns a small band of survivors traversing a ruined land in search of shelter against both the elements and threats of a more human nature. They eventually find a small house that this low-budget production could call home, and hole up for the night. But when this crew springs the well-set trap that this home represents, our heroes will have to band together to survive an onslaught from the worst of what humanity has left to offer.
Ah, folks, what can I say? There isn’t much to love here, I’m afraid. The film trods along, padding out its threadbare plot with little in the way of drama or tension to keep us engrossed. And while the film may have boasted some decent cinematography at some point, the image has been ruined by an aggressive amount of desaturation. The film is almost entirely black and white, but the resulting color-drained picture doesn’t do much but annoy. While I’ve seen plenty of films with a monochromatic palette employed to great stylistic effect, The Day’s look seems entirely arbitrary (a brief flashback sequence spoils us with bold colors – water in the desert, sadly).
A shame, all of this, because the performances here are all quite good. Dominic Monaghan and Shawn Ashmore put in solid work, as does Cory Hardrict (a new face to this viewer). The Divide’s Michael Eklund does the best that he can with his underwritten villain, while Shannyn Sossamon makes for a sympathetic heroine even when the script wants us to jeer her.
The standout, though, is Ashley Bell. Making a return trip to our favorite genre after her chill-inducing appearance in 2010’s The Last Exorcism, Bell does a 180 here in terms of character. Rather than the shy, quiet teen from Exorcism, Bell’s Day character is a complete and utter badass, as adept at slashing and bashing as any of the male characters in the film. And while seeing this wee lass beat the living hell out of anything in her path is enjoyable enough, her character is gifted with a bit of much welcome depth after a revelation concerning her character’s past and allegiance. It’s in these scenes that Bell shines, giving us a character that we alternately despise and feel for (even if one of her best moments comes at the tail end of an overly long sequence of unnecessary cruelty that skirts far too close to torture porn for my liking). Even though I don’t care much for this film, I’m totally there if the powers-that-be elect to give Bell’s character a prequel or sequel.
Anchor Bay has given The Day the mostly lackluster package it deserves, available on both DVD and in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. The image on the Blu-ray is sharp enough, with mostly strong blacks (the colors being a fairly moot point). The audio track does its job well enough, even if it’s presenting a sound design that is hardly dynamic. The only bonus features to be found are a trailer, and an audio commentary with director Aarniokoski, producer Guy Danelle, and writer Luke Passmore. It’s a lively enough chat, though it will likely appeal only to those who love the film.
Ultimately, while the performances are good and the film itself is decently-made, this movie feels very much like a case of “been there (often), done that (better)”. If grim, overly talky (yet mostly depth free) post-apocalyptic flicks are your bag, then by all means – watch away. All others, skip this Day and wait out the end of the world with better movies than this.
2 out of 5
1 out of 5