I fear for all the souls and pieces of shit that try and get into this house tonight.
There are very few actors that I enjoy watching more than Dominic Monaghan. For me he is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood and his refusal to be typecast in anything wins my respect. He was fantastic in “Lord of the Rings” and amazing to watch as Charlie in “Lost” and so when I saw a trailer for “The Day” when watching the Blu-Ray of the recently reviewed “[REC] Genesis, I hoped that it wasn’t well known so that I could review it, and it wasn’t.
I hadn’t heard of “The Day” outside of the aforementioned Blu-Ray before and I was quite excited, as I am with most post-apocalyptic films, and the fact that the trailer didn’t tell me a lot about the film itself, including anything of the plot other than people hiding in a house and trying to stop others getting in. For me that lead to a good level of intrigue and for the first time I am reviewing a film without even knowing anything other than a general outline of the plot beforehand. For me that is exciting and is what I enjoy about watching new films.
I even write this before I’ve started watching the film so I could be getting this excited over nothing, but I guess we’ll find out. I must admit that the ratings on various movie websites (went on for the purposes of getting screenshots) didn’t leave me very optimistic ahead of time but I didn’t read any reviews, meaning that for once I get to watch a film with nothing influencing my opinion before I’ve even seen it.
The one thing I would say is that this is not a horror film, there aren’t any real horror elements to it. I know the poster and the trailer make it seem like a horror movie but it really isn’t.
A group of survivors from a post-apocalyptic event travel the road together and search for a place to start a new life.They stumble across a farmhouse that seems to be the answer to their problems, including having weeks worth of food in the basement. The situation soon turns sour when the group try and remove the food, only to set off a trap set by cannibals that kills Rick (Monaghan).
After the remaining four kill the cannibals that respond to the trap being triggered, they are forced into an internal conflict when one of the group, Mary (Bell) turns out to be a former member of a clan of cannibals. She is tortured to breaking point and even after they let her live, they aren’t sure that she can be trusted.
With the trust levels running extremely low and the fact that they can’t run away because the cannibals will track them down easily, they only have one choice and that is to stand and fight.
Just your typical post-apocalyptic film or actually decent?
There have been many takes in recent years on what the world would be like after an apocalyptic event. Some of them have been excellent, such as “Carriers” (which will be reviewed in the future), “The Book of Eli” and a few others, on the flip side there have been some shocking ones and I think one of the problems is that most post-apocalyptic films are very similar to one another and the genre has become over-used, almost to the point where you think you’ve seen everything before.
Obviously without an apocalyptic ever having happened to humans it is impossible to say what a post-apocalyptic world would be like and how people would interact with each other. There has been a good mix of views on this, some more realistic than others and I think that this is presented in that group.
It holds no punches at any points and starts off with Adam raiding the house of a family that has been brutally murdered. Right there and then, within the first 67 seconds of the film you get a great idea of the world that the characters are living in and the lengths that they need to go to to survive. Within the next few seconds you realise that they’re not only having to resort to those lengths but also having to avoid unseen enemies who are going to kidnap them if they get the chance.
I loved that it didn’t use cliches. There is a scene are 11 minutes where they believe that there may be enemies in the house that they have broken into, one of them and goes to explore. They re-emerge and say “clear” and in most films you would expect someone to suddenly come out and attack them, but it doesn’t go down that route and I found that quite refreshing.
The characters are delightfully written, right down from reflecting on the past and having a generally optimistic nature, which isn’t common in post-apocalyptic films, right through to enjoying the little things, such as when it starts raining on they use it as a rare opportunity to have a shower. The characters know how to be serious whilst also having the ability to have a more likable side, and without being given much flexibility because of the situation they’re in, it’s nice to see characters that aren’t one-dimensional, which again has been a problem in other post-apocalyptic films.
I love that the characters are optimistic about things and believe that there is a way out of their situation. In most similar films it’s all doom and gloom, but in this the characters not only enjoy the little things but also have positive plans for the future. The characters don’t accept their fate, or indeed the fate of the world and it’s nice to see that they deal surprisingly well with their situation.
Even the antagonists have more than one dimension, which is something that definitely doesn’t happen regularly. The leader of the cannibal clan is very loyal to his family and when he son is killed, he develops a more human element to his character and isn’t only interested in creating violence for the sake of being violent, which is
Dominic Monaghan is again produces a fine performance and is memorable before his character dies at the 30 minute mark after being impaled by a spike, but I was definitely surprised by Shawn Ashmore’s contribution to the film. It’s the first chance I’ve had to see him in a darker role after he playing one dimensional good guys in the X-Men series and “Frozen” (the good one, not the Disney film) and he does very well as the troubled Adam. The two have an excellent on screen relationship and chemistry, you actually believe it when another character says that they have known each other since childhood. It would have been interesting to see the pair develop had Rick not been killed early on.
Ashmore is incredible throughout, with the standout scene being where he is torturing Mary, seemingly taking a genuine delight in trying to force a cannibal to eat their own flesh. It only lasts for about two minutes but is an incredible piece of acting and it’s the first time I have been truly impressed with Ashmore.
For once I loved the soundtrack of a film that’s not well known. It doesn’t happen often, with “Exit Humanity” being my favourite example, but “The Day” does an excellent job with it’s soundtrack and the opening title sequence has a song that reminds me a lot of the main score in another post-apocalyptic film,”The Book of Eli”. Some movies that I’ve reviewed recently have had horrendous soundtracks and scores, but it works excellently in “The Day” and creates a very interesting atmosphere. The music isn’t used inappropriately at all and doesn’t feel like it’s trying to force you to feel a certain emotion when the film doesn’t call for it, which is something that a lot of films try to get away with (playing dramatic music when nothing is happening for example).
My one criticism of the film is that when the characters are battling with the cannibals at the end of the film it is so dark that is hard to tell which character is which when they’re fighting.
I actually genuinely enjoyed this film. Much like “Exit Humanity” I think the only reason that it has a low score on film review websites is because there isn’t a lot of action and a lot of people aren’t interested in watching something that isn’t outright action all the way through. A lot of the movie going public these days love to just sit back and be entertained with action for hours on end, and whilst that isn’t a bad thing, if I don’t give a crap about the characters then why should I give a crap if they die or not?
I’m not going to sit here and claim it’s the best film I’ve ever seen but as far as post apocalyptic films go, it’s one of the more entertaining and has been executed with care and attention, which again is something that I think is more valuable than letting a computer do all of your work for you and relying solely on that (hello Transformers).
If you’re prepared to invest 90 minutes of your time in watching a good film then I would recommend this as it’s got three very distinct chapters, each with their own good merits.