Monday, May 27, 2013

The Day Movie Review – When the World Ends, We All Become Cannibals

Length: 87 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: August 29, 2012
Director: Douglas Aarniokoski

A group of three men and two women wander down a bleak road until they come across a charming farmhouse. Adam (Shawn Ashmore, "Frozen") flashes back on his life before joining the group. He remembers leaving his wife and daughter alone in their car to rifle through an abandoned house, only to have someone break into the car and steal them both. Shannon (Shannyn Sossaman, "One Missed Call") explains to Mary (Ashley Bell, "The Last Exorcism") that Adam, Rick, and Henson were best friends before the world ended, which is how they ended up together.

Rick discovers a treasure trove of canned food in the basement and shows it to his pals. Henson is especially happy because he's near death and they apparently haven't had food in awhile. Moving the food sets off an alarm that lets those outside the house know that someone broke in. As those people attack, Rick dies, and Mary tries to attack one of the men. Shannon overhears Mary talking to the man and learns that she has a tattoo that identifies her as part of a similar group. When they get back on their feet again, they need to decide what to do about Mary, while Mary attempts to decide what to do about herself.

"The Day" is a film with a lot of promise, but I can't help feeling like it missed the dark. The director uses heavy contrast, which gives the movie a dark apocalyptic feel. You seldom see many shades other than black, white, or gray, and when the film does introduce color, it creates a jarring effect. When blood is shed, the bright color of the blood against the black and white backdrop is pretty amazing.

Many of the actors and characters in the film are interesting especially Mary. The woman rarely speaks to anyone in the ground, which leads to a showdown between she and Shannon. Shannon lets her know that the group is a family and that if she can't act like they do, she needs to leave. While she has a tattoo that marks her as a cannibal, she knows that she can't go back to that life and live that way again, but she doesn't know how to explain herself to the others.

We don't get a lot of backstory about anyone else. Rick and Shannon are apparently in a relationship, but after his death, she just turns into a bitch. We get one scene that shows them together, and then she suddenly forgets he was even part of the group. All she cares about is killing Mary and moving on. Even when the others agree to let her redeem herself, Shannon still wants her to die.

The Adam backstory is a little out of place too. We see him cradling the head of a baby doll in one scene, and he flashes back to losing his family. We learn that the doll belonged to his daughter, and while he does mention her a few more times, it doesn't really make sense. If he was traveling with his wife and daughter, how did he wind up with the group? Shannon even points out that they've been a group for years. It also explains why he hates cannibals, but it doesn't explain why he lets Mary redeem herself. He goes from wanting her dead because she's one of the people who killed his family to risking his life to save her just a few scenes later.

"The Day" was far better than I thought it would be, but it does have a few flaws. Ashmore is a great leading man, and I look forward to seeing him in more movies. Bell is an even stronger actor, and given that I really disliked "The Last Exorcism," I was surprised at how well she did here. She definitely has more of a range than I previously thought. As for Sossaman, had I known she was in the film, I probably would have skipped it.

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