Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Day (2011)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

Clinging to a shred of hope for a better life, a small band of survivors wander the ravaged ruins of earth in search of shelter and fertile land. Rick (Dominic Monaghan), Henson (Cory Hardrict), and Adam (Shawn Ashmore) do their best to preserve a limited amount of ammunition, while Shannon (Shannyn Sossamon) relies on her trusty machete.

Shannon is reluctant to trust the quiet newcomer in the group. Mary (Ashley Bell) is a “lone wolf,” and she refuses to open up to everyone else, but the group is forced to deal with bigger problems. Henson is struggling to fight an unknown illness, and without the proper resources and medical care, Rick, against Adam’s wishes, urges the group to stop and rest.

The group finds shelter at a seemingly abandoned farmhouse, and everything is calm and quiet at first, but the situation takes a turn for the worst, when Adam and Rick discover a bundle of canned goods in the basement. The cans aren’t filled with vegetables or soup. Instead, each can is filled with rocks. Rick, Henson, and Adam unknowingly spring a trap that triggers a ringing alarm, and all three men are trapped in the basement by a steel door.

Shannon and Mary do their best to fight off the wave of attackers, but the first battle is just a warm up for the oncoming invasion. A deranged man leads his two small children and his group of bloodthirsty cannibals to the farmhouse for a feast. Father (Michael Eklund) promises a fresh supply of new meat for his clan, and suspicions of sabotage endanger the group’s chances of survival after a shocking revelation…….

Ashley Bell delivers the best performance as the scrappy and grizzled loner, with a troubled past. Everyone else? Yeah, the quality of performances from the rest of the cast ranges from decent to mediocre. Cory Hardrict is the generic tough guy, who refuses to go down without a fight. Shawn Ashmore sheds a few tears as Adam, but there’s nothing special about his performance.

There’s nothing wrong with Shannyn Sossamon’s performance, but Shannon is easily the most unlikeable and annoying character here (more on that later). For the most part, Michael Eklund’s screen time is limited to brief moments of Father leading the troops and his kids to the farmhouse, and he doesn’t receive a consistent amount of focus until the very end. Eklund is believable as this creepy cult leader with a nasty mean streak, but his character doesn’t have a real chance to stand out. And Dominic Monaghan’s screen time is too short to make a fair assessment.

After the skirmish with the first group of cannibals, Mary’s dark secret is revealed: Mary is a former member of a cannibal clan. To signify their unity, the cannibal clan members share a brand, but Mary was able to slip through the cracks, because her brand is concealed on the most inner part of her thigh. Rick was the only causality of the vicious trap, so Shannon, Henson, and Adam suspect Mary as the culprit, who lead them into a trap.

Shannon and Adam take turns beating Mary during a nasty torture scene, until Henson steps in to put a stop to the savagery. Mary tells her story about being a member of  the cannibal clan. She had to “survive,” but as a child, Mary turned on and murdered clan members after they made a willing choice to kill and eat her injured sister. Eventually, Mary is able to turn the tables on Shannon, Henson, and Adam, and Mary urges the group to stand and fight against the group of invading cannibals. Out running the clan is a suicide mission, because the group is horribly out numbered. Reluctantly, Shannon, Henson, and Adam agree to fight side by side with Mary for one last desperate chance at survival.

Mary’s confession provided a good surprise. You could always tell Mary was hiding something, but it’s hard to put a finger on the problem. Oh, and if you’re wondering, Mary is the sole survivor at the end of the film. As the big battle at the farmhouse unfolds, it’s obvious Mary will emerge as “The One,” and with a last second save from Adam, Mary is able to walk away from the chaos, with more chances to fight another day.

Why is Shannon so hateful? Isn’t she supposed to be one of the good guys? Okay, we get it. You don’t like Mary, but you NEED every little bit of help you can get for survival. During the battle, there’s a scene, where Mary saves Shannon’s life after an attack from one of the cannibals. Of course, Shannon repays her gratitude by telling Mary to “F*** off.” Mary agrees to create a diversion with some help from her shotgun, giving Adam and Shannon  a chance to escape into the woods, and is Shannon grateful for this act of humility? Nope. Instead, Shannon secretly removes all the shells from Mary’s shotgun, so she can suffer an agonizing death. Luckily, Adam has a change of heart, and he returns to help Mary fight off the cannibals.

Shannon is alone and running in the woods, when Father’s daughter shows up for revenge. Long story short, Shannon murdered her brother during the stand at the farmhouse, so the little girl seizes the perfect opportunity for vengeance. Shannon tries to put up a fight, but the little girl succeeds in her mission by slitting Shannon’s throat. In the end, the Shannon character creates a big quandary. She’s supposed to be someone, who you want to root for, but it’s hard to support someone, who’s so slimy and loathsome.

What happened? After taking one look at the desolate landscape, it’s obvious earth was devastated by some kind of apocalyptic disaster, but The Day never takes the time to give a detailed explanation about the events preceding the current storyline.

As the audience, we’re just supposed to assume a nuclear attack destroyed earth? Did a viral outbreak turn everyone into zombies? Sorry, but as the viewer, it’s kind of hard to put myself in suspension of disbelief mode, when I don’t know the reasons behind the troubles facing the main cast of characters.  If I missed something, feel free to point it out, otherwise, The Day has a pretty noticeable void in the story.

Although, I’ll admit I enjoyed the black and white style here. The Day is loaded with gruesome gore and bloody violence, but the black and white approach gives everything a more aesthetic feel. The Day has more than enough generic setbacks, but using black and white provides a little refreshment, and I appreciated the respectable effort to stand out amongst the pack.

The Day won’t change the landscape for post-apocalyptic films, and I had a lot of trouble buying into the brooding, dark tone here, because with the exception of Bell, no one else in the cast delivers a strong enough performance that’s capable of pulling an emotional reaction out of you.

Still, if you’re willing to overlook the flaws, The Day is a passable post-apocalyptic film. The brutal and bloody gore is pretty intense, the hard hitting fight scenes are fun to watch, and The Day features a suspenseful and action-packed finale. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but The Day is an adequate strawberry (or cheese) Danish at the crowded buffet of post-apocalyptic films. And I’ll tell you this now, I’ll take The Day over the other dried out pieces of heat lamp chicken and stale biscuits in Wal-Mart’s five dollar bin.

Rating: 5/10

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