Post-apocalyptic thrillers are becoming played out; it’s incredibly hard to make walking across a bleak landscape an entertaining endeavor, and much like the zombie film, there’s not much left to do with the genre to make it interesting. With The Day, writer Luke Passmore and director Douglas Aarniokoski are the newest team on the horror landscape seeking to reinvigorate an increasingly-difficult genre to get right.
The Day follows a quintet of post-apoc survivors over the course of a day. There’s Rick, the optimistic leader, who firmly believes in the tenets of hope and faith to survive; Shannon, Rick’s machete-wielding girlfriend; Adam, a cynical man still mourning the deaths of his wife and daughter; Henson, ill with an unknown disease; and Mary, a silent stranger with a mysterious past. Together they take refuge at an old home as a warring faction of cannibalistic marauders closes in, threatening to make this their last stand.
As a post-apocalyptic thriller, The Day does little to stand out from other films of its ilk; it’s a paint-by-numbers affair that features very little originality in terms of its method of presentation. Everything is white and washed out, giving the terrain a sort of “scorched earth” appearance; food and water are scarce luxuries; and warring factions, one of which has a predilection for eating people, prevent anything related to harmony in a bleak world that is apparently only sustainable for beautiful people with superior fighting skills.
While these old standards can still be entertaining, The Day fails to provide any sort of background to give us incentive to give a damn about the characters. What was the cause of the apocalypse? Why do these two groups of people hate each other? The movie just ups and plants our protagonists in the middle of this seemingly important “last stand” with absolutely no answers as to why.
Worst of all, The Day is just boring. For the first half hour almost nothing happens beyond depressing introspection and squabbling among the friends, none of whom can fully agree on what’s next on their journey. When the action finally arrives, it’s filled with some suspect acting, particularly on the part of Henson, whose frequent expletives and attempts at being a bad ass fall very flat, only eliciting a few laughs throughout, however unintentional they may be.
Aesthetically, the bleak, washed-out look is punctuated by blood, employing the same effect used in films like Sin City and Mutant Chronicles. Unfortunately, the CGI is so bad it just comes off as comical and out of place. Some CGI fire makes an appearance toward the end of the film and when combined with the anti-climactic siege that wraps up the near non-existent plot, you’re given a major letdown of a payoff after more than an hour of plodding exposition.
The Day is so firmly entrenched in its post-apocalyptic style that it fails to cull together anything we haven’t seen before. Add in questionable acting, thin characters, and just plain old bad CGI, and The Day does little to draw the viewer into its view of the end of the world.
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