If you’ve read Cormac McCarthy’s chilling, post-apocalyptic novel, The Road, or seen the movie based on the book, you will surely recall the scene where The Man and The Boy come upon an abandoned farmhouse in which they hope to seek shelter, only to discover that its basement is occupied by unfortunate survivors who’ve been unwittingly captured and trapped there to await, let’s just say for the sake of avoiding spoilers, a ‘fate worse than death.’ Now, take that scene, dial back the ‘grisly-mind-numbing-horror’ factor by about sixty percent, turn it into an “Old West-style” stand off and expand to 84 minutes and you have the basic plot of The Day, a new action/drama opening nationwide this Wednesday, August 29th.
The directorial debut of Doug Aarniokoski, The Day features a talented cast including Shawn Ashmore (X-Men trilogy), Shannyn Sossamon (Wrist Cutters: A Love Story), Dominic Monaghan (Lord of The Rings) and Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism). It is the terrific acting performances and the unique character revelations within the limited scope of plot that elevate The Day beyond a rote doomsday retread best left to ‘rental’ status to a taught thriller worth experiencing in the theater.
Shot to great effect in a muted palate of grays and browns with only select flashback scenes appearing in color, The Day covers a 24-hour period in the lives of five people (two women, three men, probably in their late twenties) who are approximately ten years into life after an unnamed apocalyptic event. Daily life for these individuals centers on maintaining a near-constant state of vigilance necessary to avoid deadly encounters with that faction of humanity which has resorted to cannibalism in order to survive.
With one member of their group gravely ill, bad weather looming and nightfall approaching, the group retreat to an empty farmhouse, but their hoped for safe haven turns out to be a trap set by those who would view them only as “meat.” As the small group band together and prepare to fight for survival against an unknown number of attackers, questions of loyalty and hidden agendas surface that blur the lines between just what separates the good guys from the bad guys. You’ll be kept guessing right up until the final shot.
Shannyn Sossamon is a very appealing actress and she is quite good in the role of Shannon, a woman struggling to maintain her humanity in the face of unrelenting loss and horror. The stand out performance here however is that of Ashley Bell as Mary; a newcomer to the group whose reticence and flinty exterior mask a tightly-capped well of emotion and fury. Bell’s Mary provides the fulcrum on which the entire plot flips and Bell proves herself to be a formidable action hero. She is a star to watch, for sure.
While there is extreme crazy violence in the film, the lack of blood red on the color spectrum helps to mitigate the gore factor, while a few instances of truly original, brutal combat–level violence evoke great cathartic release for the audience. And that’s never a bad thing. For fans of The Walking Dead, Road Warrior and The Cabin in The Woods, The Day is highly recommended.
The Worley Gig Gives The Day 4 out of 5 Stars