Post-apocalyptic genre films would litter video store shelves if any still existed. The Day is one of the latest, and is as generic as its title. It's a bit unfair to compare this low-budget Canadian thriller with superior films like The Road and 28 Days Later, but the market provides better alternatives in both film and on television with shows like "The Walking Dead." The Day isn't a zombie film, but it does follow a band of survivors as they traverse a desolated landscape looking for food and shelter while avoiding hostile forces. Notable for being the first release by WWE Studios without wrestlers, The Pact is a dull trip that actors Shannyn Sossamon, Dominic Monaghan and Shawn Ashmore cannot save.
The opening minutes of The Day show early promise. Shannon (Sossamon), Rick (Monaghan), Adam (Ashmore), Mary (Ashley Bell) and several others stumble upon an abandoned farmhouse that may provide them shelter and food. The guys search the basement and find canned goods, but the deserted surplus turns out to be a trap. Metal doors slam closed and an alarm begins to sound, alerting outsiders of the intruders. The group is soon attacked and lives are lost, which casts suspicion on Mary, a recent addition who may have led the group into hell. What follows is less interesting than these intense opening scenes, and the Day feels like a dollar-store rip-off of The Road.
While The Day is fairly pedestrian, it's at least competently shot and staged by Director Doug Aarniokoski. I admire filmmakers who create polished films, especially in the horror and action genres, with little money, and The Day is decently constructed and acted. Unfortunately, the meager script doesn't provide for many thrills during the film's 87-minute running time. Once the antagonists are revealed, the film spins its wheels while the remaining survivors beef up their arsenal for a showdown. There's a bit of character drama between the established players and Mary, who suffers a nasty interrogation, but none of it is especially interesting. The film has the opportunity to dissect life in a cruel, comfortless world, but is content to gloss over these issues and focus on petty bickering and soulless violence.
The film's finale is unexpectedly rousing, and here The Day finally shows an energy lacking from its first 70 minutes. A few scattershot inserts try to make the audience care about the characters, but only Mary earns a memorable reckoning. There's nothing especially bad about the film; it's just a generic post-apocalyptic actioner that brings nothing new to the table. The characters are cutouts, the plot is thin, and the action and jolts are nominal. The Day has little to say about a broken society or the human condition, and when it does speak up, its words have been said many times before.
The Day is the product of the Red One digital camera system, and the Blu-ray's 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is expectedly polished. Most of the color has been drained from the image to create the apocalyptic mood, so there isn't much separation between blacks and the film's rare pops of color. Some grain was added in post, giving the film a lightly gritty appearance, but the image retains a softer, dream-like feel that enhances the mise-en-scène. Detail is good when the camera is steady, and The Day retains the sharp, crisp appearance of a modern, digitally shot picture. There is a bit of digital noise from time to time, and I noticed one shot with some strange aliasing or compression hiccups.
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD mix could be more aggressive with the film's action elements, but it exhibits good range and clarity between the soft dialogue and effects like gunfire and punches. Dialogue remains clear throughout, and the film's pleasing score is deep and resonant. Ambient and action effects are somewhat front-loaded, but the surround speakers and subwoofer do add depth to the action beats. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
Anchor Bay releases The Day in a Blu-ray "combo pack" that includes the Blu-ray and a DVD copy of the film. The discs are housed in a Blu-ray eco-case. The only extras are a standard Commentary with Executive Producer/Director Doug Aarniokoski, Producer Guy Danella and Writer Luke Passmore and the film's trailer (1:52/HD).
After a string of films and television shows with post-apocalyptic settings, the genre is starting to feel a little stale. The Day follows a group of survivors as they try to keep their lives in a barren wasteland, but offers few tricks not perfected in The Road, "The Walking Dead," or other recent thrillers. The film concludes with a nasty punch, but viewers may find themselves dozing off well before this climax. Skip It.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.