The Day is a good gritty post apocalyptic thriller. It is shot similar to The Road and Hell and in most scenes I was unsure whether it was truly in black and white or very desaturated colour. Wardrobe and make up have done a very god job of making sure every one looks suitably thin, dirty and ragged with the notable exception of the cleanly shaven armpits of the female characters. Unfortunately, like Hell, after a very promising start, this film dives straight into the cliché that there is only one good and nice group of survivors and everyone else is murdering, torturing, cannibal scum. This is more intelligently done in this movie than in many others of the same type I have seen but I was really hoping for a more complex story line after the strong opening.
I liked that there was never any hint of what caused the apocalypse and very little detail about what had happened in the 10 years or so prior to the day that is depicted in this film. Sometimes it is better not to know the back story.
A small group of survivors that are the remnants of a larger group which has been slowly eroded over the years start the film trekking towards an unknown destination. Some are childhood friends and others are newcomers to the group. They have very little food or supplies of any kind. This being America, they do have plenty of guns but very limited ammunition. I don’t think even they have an idea of where they are going but they seem to be looking for somewhere to put down roots. The leader is carrying a collection of seeds with him to start a farming community. As the weather starts to worsen and one of their group becomes too sick to move fast, they start looking for a safe place to rest up.
After stopping at an apparently abandoned house to rest and escape the storm, they spread themselves very thin and painstakingly search the place for traps. Considering how paranoid they are they seem to be doing the bad guys work for them by dividing themselves up. Having successfully checked the place despite this questionable tactic, they seem to abandon all caution and make themselves at home.
Soon though our group starts to get edgy again and decide to leave as soon as they can. But not before splitting up again and exposing themselves unnecessarily to danger. Well, it worked out OK last time didn’t it? However, things soon take a bad turn for our heroes and they find themselves trapped and in a fight for their lives. The final reel is a pretty standard version of the plucky smaller good group making a stand against a larger and more powerful evil group. You’ll find the same scenes in any zombie film and most post apocalypse films too. The scenes are mostly well filmed though and keep you engaged and interested most of the time. There are a couple of scenes which seem to drag on and add little to the overall composition, especially when at that time all the characters are convinced that every second counts if they want to survive.
Throughout the film the group is very careful with their very limited ammunition and towards the end keep stressing to each other that they need to make every shot count. But unfortunately the director doesn’t seem to have been able to resist the temptation to have lots of dramatic gunfire. I didn’t get obsessive and count the rounds as they are fired but I don’t think that they fired more than they have though (see Underworld) but they did seem very wasteful. Most of the action is quick, close up and scrappy like you’d expect from the situation though and mostly the temptation for flashy set pieces is resisted giving a more realistic feel.
As usual with these types of movie, the uncertainty comes from working out who is going to survive to the end of the film. While this becomes reasonably obvious again it is well done and those that don’t survive are allowed to go out with some heroism but not with too much pathos or melodrama.
Overall a very pleasing post apocalypse drama.