I first heard about 2011’s The Day from an interview of Dominic Monaghan, arguably the most recognizable star of the film and one of its producers. Unfortunately, Mr. Monaghan gave away a rather large spoiler regarding the film which ruined what was surely one of the bigger surprises the filmmakers wanted to unload on audiences.
Afterwards, I heard almost nothing of the movie.
The Day received a limited U.S. release and, for all intents and purposes, became another in the endless string of (in this case almost) direct to video releases. Then, a couple of “Movies you should see but didn’t” type reviews re-ignited my interest in seeing it. So I did.
The Day is, essentially, a zombie flavored siege type story, only without zombies. We have a group of five people, three men and two women, who are cautiously hiking through what we quickly learn is very dangerous territory. The weather is cold and rainy and one of them is very sick. When the group finds an abandoned home, they decide to camp out there until the rain lets up, unaware that the building is more than it seems.
As mentioned, this is a siege type story, with the villains turning out to be cannibals. In this post-apocalyptic future, “regular” humans are few, animals are for the most part extinct and farming is a thing of the past. Thus, there is no food source other than scavenging for scraps from the past (in the form of canned edibles) or joining cannibal clans on the hunt for other humans to feed on.
This is a low budget film, but the movie does manage to build up a nice head of steam and provides audiences with several interesting characters. Of particular note is Ashley Bell’s portrayal of Mary, one of the group of five who, we find, has some very dark secrets of her own. She is effectively the movie’s protagonist, and shines the brightest among the other characters as the stoic, tight lipped ass-kicking protagonist.
Having said that, the film is not without its problems. Unfortunately, the makers relied on some very substandard computer generated effects for some of the more grisly scenes. While I think computer generated effects can be used well in movies, when they are used to portray blood or injuries to the body they can be unrealistic to the point of being distracting. In the case of The Day, the filmmakers probably would have been better served trying to use practical effects rather than the computer generated ones.
The movie also spends a little too much time, in my opinion, with the villains of the piece. The movie might have worked a little better if those villains had been kept a little more obscure, a la John Carpenter’s 1976 Assault on Precinct 13, my all time favorite siege film.
Still, for a low budget and for all intents and purposes direct to video film, The Day delivers a decent amount of thrills and chills and a fascinating protagonist. It may not be one of the best siege type films ever made, but it is far, far from the worst. Recommended for those who like this type of movie.