The Day

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“After the apocalypse, there will be blood. Oh, yes: there will be blood…”

There are times when not saying too much can work for a film; Night of the Living Dead is the classic example, and it works, because you don’t need to know why there are zombies. Just that they are. A similar approach is taken here: you’re dumped more or less into the middle of a post-apocalyptic scenario, with five people wandering the wilderness. They take shelter in a farmhouse, only to discover it’s actually a trap for a cannibalistic tribe living nearby. The group’s leader, Adam (Ashmore) believes Mary (Bell) deliberately led them into the house, but she convinces them she is a member of a different clan, with just as much reason to hate the cannibals. Knowing they would rapidly hunted down if they tried to make a break for it through the open countryside, the prepare to defend the house against those outside, who want to have them over for dinner. And I mean that, in the most literal sense of the term.

Bell, previously, best-known for playing a possessed girl in The Last Exorcism, is an effective and impressive bad-ass in this movie, gradually moving from the side to centre-stage. There’s also little no attempt to make her prettified: understandable, given the situation, but it always kinda irritates me when heroines are miraculously immune to damage, and always immaculately made-up and coiffured. Definitely not the case here. However, the lack of any significant explanation does damage proceedings, because it means things appear to unfold simply because they need to for the plot, without any other justification: there’s no scene-setting to make them logical. Why did these people turn to cannibalism? What happened to destroy civilization so completely? Unlike NotLD, these are relevant questions, that the film stubbornly refuses to answer. While cheaper aspects, such as the few sets and small cast, are explicable by the budget, more exposition would have been welcome.

I did like the visual style, which is muted, to the point of often almost becoming entirely black and white: there’ll be a single object painted in colour to stop you from getting up and adjusting your set. But rather than a fully-fledged movie, it feels like an single episode taken from a long-running TV series. While it’s one I’d be interested in watching, thanks largely to Bell, as a stand-alone feature, it doesn’t quite work, and feels like a good idea in need of significantly more development.

Dir: Douglas Aarniokoski
Star: Ashley Bell, Shannyn Sossamon, Shawn Ashmore, Cory Hardrict

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