I watched The Day tonight. Gentle reader, do not watch this “movie.”
As the credits rolled I was first struck by the utter lack of humor throughout the movie. like someone thought thought their movie might really work best if everyone just cursed and yelled and whined constantly throughout. This move always baffles me (as an aspiring screenwriter myself).
It was a very amateurish product ultimately, feeling a lot like some college kid’s first attempt to write a post-apocalypse assault on precinct 13 sort of movie. I say college kid because it was genre for no good goddamned reason. there was no message or depth. it just went through the motions. It even had a “some poor bastard is tied to a chair and tortured” scene. sigh.
I was intrigued by the trailer because it had that lovable guy from lost and LOTR (dominic moynahahahaha) and iceman from the xmen movies (whatever his name is)(Shawn Ashmore. apparently he got top billing. huh. and he certainly did try to act in a couple solo scenes, which felt kind of weird in the context of the otherwise flat movie). And I was excited to see that girl from The Rules of Attraction (Shannyn Sossamon, whom i thought was likely going to have a promising career after that movie. but. i guess not)(so far). she served to be the “girl who gets naked” in this movie, as well as “the horribly bitchy person who ruins everything for no good reason.” Cory Hardrict fit into this “we were cast because we’re pretty” group. but at one point near the end he shouts some forceful bullshit about fighting the villains, which struck me as cliche idiotic bravado. Kind of dug Michael Eklund‘s face, as the mohawked semi-steampunked villain, but can’t actually remember seeing him in anything else (maybe i’m confusing him with Vinnie Jones?).
blah blah. actors. huh.
I saw them in the trailer and thought ‘maybe this movie is going to let these sideliners blow our asses out with their deep acting abilities. maybe this is the shot they’ve all been waiting for!”. oh well.
Apparently the director, Douglas Aarniokoski, was second unit director on a great many things (fear and loathing in las vegas, from dusk till dawn, etc.). So. I’m sad that he finally got his big break, and made a movie with no meaningful story, statement, or characters. huh.
IMDB notes that the same silly font for the opening credits is also used in the director’s cut. What a strange thing to note. and how did anyone see this director’s cut? (And the font is what, Impact? White, with thin black outline? painful.). this suggests a bigger story around why this movie sucked. would love to hear it. no idea how. but. maybe it was a better (or at least weirder?) movie once…
The music (mix?) was also amateurish. going for ear splitting whine in early scenes (to put you at unease? this works better if it’s subtle, so you don’t know why you want to claw your ears out). Most of the movie stuck to a low key music vibe, until a big techno-y song burst out during a final struggle (with no appropriate build up) which reeked of an attempt to ape 28 Days Later’s final music explosion. so, by comparison, ouch.
There were also at least two bizarre sound effect jump scares, which utterly failed. I remember saying out “ok, you didn’t earn that” both times. like, someone just walking past someone else. BLARE! … huh. … I should probably know the name for this trick by now. a “sting”? I remember it being openly addressed (cheap music jump scare) in the commentary for Event Horizon years ago. but… i’m failing as a critic here. can’t even use the right vocal. sorry. 🙁
At the risk of spoilers (i feel like spoilers don’t matter, because I hated the whole movie. but. meh):
it is a movie that is bizarrely slow for the first half hour, where everyone pointedly doesn’t talk about what’s happening. they just complain about needing to keep moving. it’s pretty well shot (a demo reel for the cinematographer? maybe that’s unfair. just because I didn’t see the shots connecting to the thin story doesn’t mean the cinematographer was just off doing his own thing. but that’s the way to bet!). they briefly mentioned the world had been over for 10 years, and briefly mentioned there was nothing left to eat. but none of this came back later to pay off. it was like they really wanted to be The Road. but didn’t have the character depth to carry the lack of explanations.
there was one point where a gang of cannibals comes for the whiny heroes, and iceman decides since there is nothing left to live for they might as well just kill all these cannibals. he doesn’t say it like that. but I was captivated by the idea of a different movie. I’d love to see a story where one group patiently eats the dead, because there’s no other food – while another group patiently kills all the cannibals, as they starve to death.
there were also opportunities to : have the lead villain consider eating his own dead son. have the non-cannibals comment on how it smells to stand around in the smoke of their burning friend.
there was also a maddening choice: to have characters carefully count their ammo, and later yell a lot about conserving ammo – only to have the characters immediately fire their guns wildly like idiots, or shoot people after they were down. bizarre. (could have been a sign of their terror i guess. but. opportunity missed).
I wonder why anyone wanted to make this movie. I was strongly reminded of Tarantino’s recent comments about the death of film. He said something like “there’s something unique to the illusion of 24 individual pictures a second forming an illusion of motion. and going digital totally ruins the magic of this specific concoction. All digital cinema really gives us is TV in public.” Well, The Day struck me as exactly this. A glorified youtube video that doesn’t give you any reason to watch it. Someone’s experiment with the tools, creating something as disposable as an episode of an average tv show. oh well.
It even ends on a shot of thrilling needless violence. Then cuts to a slightly closer shot for the end credits to roll over – so that the victim of this final act is neatly cropped out of the frame. This stupid choice sums up the baffling wasted potential of this whole movie. (and maybe is a sign of someone taking the movie away from the director?) hmmf.
… and since I don’t know how to end, i’ll link to this fine short review by Dan Kaufman, which I should probably read over and over and try to learn from. (so i might learn how to write a concise review, some day).