I guess even WWE needs to step beyond the world of professional wrestling and try its hand with films that don’t feature wrestling stars. Well, WWE studios together with Anchor Bay Entertainment wants to try its hand in the world of horror thrillers with movies such as “The Pact”, “Barricade” and now with director Doug Aarniokoski at its helm, the post-apocalyptic thriller “The Day”. Ok, this film is pedestrian at best, it is not a zombie movie nor a movie with vampires such as “Stake Land” but rather uses elements that the film “The Road” did so well.
The film starts off easily enough and shows some potential. 5 armed to the teeth survivors are on the move in this world where the most dangerous predator are cannibals who have organized themselves. Rick (Dominic Monaghan), Adam (Shawn Ashmore), Henson (Cory Hardrict), Shannon (Shannyn Sossamon) and Mary (Ashley Bell) stumble on an abandoned farmhouse that can provide them shelter from the bad weather and perhaps some food. But nothing is what it seems to be and the house itself may be a trap for an organized group of cannibals. Fighting off the first attack with some casualties, the group soon develops some suspicion on May who had just recently joined their number. Now, they must make a stand and try to hold out for a single day.
The film’s script written by Luke Passmore is pretty easy to get into and has very little intricacies. This ragged world where people form groups to survive another group bent on preying on them leaves a lot of details left to be assumed. The reasons why the world is the way it was were never talked about or brought into exposition. All we have to rely on is a minor flashback on Adam’s past, but none of the answers have really put into the spotlight. I guess it would be safe to assume that the film was intended to be a dime store rip off of “The Road” or something that may have occurred before the events of that film. I know it is asking a lot, but really, the film isn’t all about the how’s and the why’s but rather what goes on in the lives of these five individuals.
I guess while details of the plot were left to be assumed, any movie could survive and form a groundwork as long as the characters have layers and depth in them. The film uses the themes that zombie movies have done over the years and it does work in a small level. The film attempts to present some moral standings as to why people turn on each other and how some belief can separate one group from another. I suppose the script was defining what it took to be called ‘human’ and much of this theme revolves around the dynamics between Henson, Mary, Shannon and Adam. It did take its time trying to get to the point, as the movie kind of drags in some areas in the first 56 minutes. Despite some rough areas in the script, the film was competently shot. The cinematography had that familiar sepia-like colors to exude a gloomy and dreary atmosphere.
The plot was structured well and the acting was decent for this type of low budget film. Of all the characters in the film, Mary is the most interesting and she presents most of the film’s good highlights. Sossamon was more for eye candy while Adam sets the film's moral stance. The script inserts some character drama between its characters but it fails to bring forth the cruel and soulless nature of this new world. The film is violent, and maybe even a little brutal as humanity seemed ready to sink to its lowest point. I do have to admit that the bad guy in the film wasn’t fully sold into the screenplay. I felt that he was a minor player in the film’s narrative even when events gave his kind more motivation in their goals. The twist and turns the film does go into may be nothing special, but it was good enough to dictate its flow and build the momentum to the final act.
The final 33 minutes of the film is when the group finally take their stand and once the antagonists are revealed, the film does pick up its pace. The film may have some pacing issues in generating non-stop thrills, but once it gets going, it does get going. The film had some good moments of suspense as the assault takes place under darkness. Sure, the film further reveals itself as an exercise in pure violence as soon as things get going. There is a lot of blood in the scenes and the violence may feel a little restrained since it happens in the shadow of night, but it sure did not hold back in its gritty tone.
Sure, the plot is thin and the characters were definitely stereotypes, but some things made Mary a much more compelling character than the others. The final encounter does prove to be rousing, and Mary gets her due in her personal reckoning. The flaws in the film were obvious as it fails to develop this shattered society and in the state of the human condition, and when it does deliver its themes, it was the same old thing. “The Day” is your usual serving of a group of people trying to make their way in this barren wasteland, and offers nothing new. But, it does pack a punch in its final act, and this makes it worthy of a watch, at least once.