The Day (2012)

The Day is a simple but relatively effective story of human nature in an extreme situation. It’s well acted, well executed and directed competently but is let down by some poor dialogue and inconsistent pacing.

Let me start by saying one thing; The Day is the Ashley Bell show. There are other actors in the movie, obviously, most are even pretty great, but you’ll barely notice them over her confident performance that, put simply, will demand your attention. Shannyn Sossaman is typically watchable, despite a bafflingly ever increasing Southern accent, Dominic Monaghan is charismatic but underused, Shawn Ashmore is reliable but continues to prove it doesn’t matter which one of the Ashmore brothers you employ and Michael Eklund shows up in the sort of hammy but powerfully odious role he’s becoming known for. She might be surrounded by much better known genre actors but on the back of a similarly awesome performance in The Last Exorcism, Bell is definitely proving one to watch.

The Day starts out with a series of annoyingly jerky handheld shots that thrusts us into the harsh realilty of its post apocalyptic future dystopia. While not handled brilliantly, and may cause nausea, it serves to set the tone and the colours and cinematography look great; something which is maintained throughout.

The threat in The Day isn’t initially clear. If you’re anything like me, you might be fooled into thinking this is just another modern zombie flick but the predators here aren’t as easily defined. They’re human, but there’s more to them than that. It’s a geniunely terrifying prospect, more so than the well trodden and overly familiar zombie apocalypse angle, if only because their quirks here are entirely possible, if not utterly plausible.

The first half of the movie is littered with genuinely well constructed and tangible gore set pieces but the latter half devolves into a ridiculous orgy of CGI and it’s depressing to see the dip in quality and realism. Had they picked one or the other, it might not have been so obvious, so it makes for an odd choice. Gorehounds will not be disappointed though as there are slit throats galore, bayonets through torsos and even a vaguely nasty skin removal.

An obvious comparison to The Day is The Divide, and not just for Eklund’s involvement. Both movies deal with a civilised society faced with an extreme situation in which surivial instinct kicks in and a small section of humanity is forced to question its ingrained morals, connectedness and their understanding of right and wrong. While it’s safe to say that I enjoyed both, The Day provides a more succinct story and better character development, along with a heroine you can truly root for, despite her own inner turmoil. It almost seems like a lazy comparison to make but I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t, especially since both films were made in 2011 and seem to have suffered from delayed releases.

While it’s a significantly flawed film, The Day still provides enough action and entertainment to be worth a watch. It asks more questions than it answers, perhaps, but is satisfactorily final enough not to leave a bad taste in your mouth. If nothing else, watch for the fantastic Ashley Bell.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

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