Anchor Bay // 2011 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 20th, 2012
Fight. Or Die.
Welcome to the end of the world. Five survivors have banded together to try and coexist in a world that has lost all hope. Youthful Adam (Shawn Ashmore, Frozen), Mary (Ashley Bell, The Last Exorcism), Rick (Dominic Monaghan, Lost), Shannon (Shannyn Sossaman, 40 Days and 40 Nights), and Henson (Cory Hardrict, Gran Torino) barricade themselves inside an old dilapidated farmhouse, hoping to find temporary relief from a world ravaged by death and violence. Unfortunately, what they discover is a trap set by a group of bloodthirsty cannibals led by a maniacal father (Michael Eklund, Watchmen) who will stop at nothing to turn each and every survivor into a tasty midnight snack.
"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."
That should be the motto of WWE Films, the wrestling company turned movie studio who have made over twenty five (!) films to date, almost all of them inexcusably terrible. Not surprisingly, most WWE films revolve around horror (See No Evil, Barricade) or action (The Marine, 12 Rounds), with a few dabbling in poorly constructed comedy (Knucklehead). What you won't see on this list are Oscar caliber dramas or historical pieces. Most all of these are leave-your-brain-at-the-door B-movies starring star various wrestling personalities, from John Cena and Kane to Triple H. The Day is one of the first films NOT to feature a WWE superstar (thank God), attempting instead to be something other than mindless shoddily constructed entertainment. Not that it really succeeds, but hey...they get points for trying.
Underneath its impaling and torture sequences, The Day is a post-apocalyptic action horror tale that desperately wants to be an art house film. The entire feature has been color-corrected to near black and white with muted splashes of color during certain moments (flashbacks, deep blue eyes, fields of green); think Robert Rodriguez's Sin City, only less so. Everything here is deadly serious without a hint of fun, something sorely missing from a low-budget feature dealing with ravenous cannibals stalking teenagers at the end of the world. It's as if the filmmakers forgot they weren't making Lawrence of Arabia, but a variation on Mad Max, Night of the Living Dead, and Road Trip.
The Day's problems are many, but the biggest mistake is not giving us any back story on what happened to the world. What forced all of these people to walk around a barren wasteland? Was it an atomic war? A deadly strain of super flu? Too much Jersey Shore? Still more questions surace in its wake: Why are people resorting to cannibalism, when there appears to be vast fields that could harvest food for hundreds of people? Where are these people finding all this ammunition? And most pressingly, wouldn't this movie have been a lot better with Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jim 'Hacksaw' Dugan, and The Iron Sheik in the lead roles?
Even at a scant 84 minutes, The Day is an arduous experience. The writing borders on self parody, often substituting clever or thoughtful dialogue for heavy cursing (Note to writers: We know how the F-word sounds. Saying it 20 times in a row doesn't make it any more impactful). The screenplay by Luke Passmore (whose only other major writing credit is MTV's tween show Teen Wolf) feels underdeveloped and flaccid, and the film's limited budget forces the audience to fill in the gaps as to what happened to create this environment. Instead of trying for any kind of scope, the movie settles on just having people protecting themselves inside of a farm house, a conceit we've seen done better dozens of times before.
Director Douglas Aarniokoski (Highlander: Endgame) shoots everything with a thin veneer of grime and dirt, making The Day feel effectively icky. The performances range from decent (a professional and game Dominic Mogaghan fares best, but leaves the picture early) and adequate (Cory Hardict is depressingly the epitome of the token black character), to frustratingly bad (Shannyn Sossaman has all the pathos of canned tuna). There are some well executed special effects, but nothing that we haven't seen before. The entire film feels like one long exercise in cinematic filler.
Presented in 1.85:1/1080p high definition widescreen, the transfer looks very good. The image is clean and clear without any major defects marring the picture. Remember, it is effectively off-color (directorial choice), so don't expect the visuals to pop off the screen. The audio is presented in TrueHD 5.1 Surround, a sufficiently aggressive mix when needed, with a fair number of directional effects, and dialogue/music easily distinguishable. There are no alternate language tracks but we do get English subtitles. The only bonus features included are a standard def DVD copy of the film and a theatrical trailer.
I had mildly high hopes for The Day, but found my excitement slowly begin to ebb as the film moved towards its violent and predictable end. I didn't care who lived, who died, or who ended up in a human casserole. I was simply bored, which is one of the worst trespasses an action/horror movie can make.
Guilty. The Day is aptly tiled, because that's how long it seems to
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* DVD Copy