The Day uses low ammunition as a tension builder, where the focus is so strict, the audience can count along with how many rounds a small group of apocalyptic survivors have during the action. Inventory checks are random but sufficient enough in quantity to make their journey across an unspecified land revolve around restricted rounds.
Yet, when the time comes to battle face-to-face with a group of branded cannibals, they shoot. And shoot. And shoot some more. Setting up a trap, hero survivors – who skirt the idea of heroes – blow away two victims locked in the basement. It’s execution style, blatantly pointless given the circumstances. Ammo isn’t as precious as once thought, but shots must be wasted so the physicality of the finale makes sense.
The Day doesn’t indicate what caused this downfall of civilization. That doesn’t matter to this crew of high school friends, and two extras who tag along. They’re led by Rick (Dominic Monaghan), a bit part only minutes escaped from cameo designation. As storms roll in, the five of them run across a rickety house, enough cover for the evening and with stocks of food in the basement.
It’s a trap.
In come the cannibals after only the bare essentials of character is established, and the villains? They’re mere faces. They’re led by “Father,” a religious type who comes in after the establishment of another possible villainous lead. Execution is not The Day’s strongest quality.
Dialogue is filled with despair, trying with unrelenting desperation to sell the breakdown of the human condition. Day almost thrills at the opportunity to hack up children, strip its women, or slaughter them as computer generated blood pours from their wounds. There’s so much of it, The Day less concerned about it’s purpose than its violence. The material isn’t an interesting look at survival so much as it is film’s love of selling violence.
It’s funny in a way, this film bought up by WWE films for distribution. In recent years, the company has entered what has become known as the PG-era, where a squeaky clean image is portrayed on their pro wrestling TV offerings as one of their executives runs for political office. It’s posturing at its worst, and hypocritical in a comedic way. While they work on pumping out blasé action flicks starring John Cena or other third-rate talent (PG-13 at their peak), here’s The Day. It stars none of their roster, but adores the violence no matter the reason. It’s dry, diluted, and depressing, but most importantly, not all that entertaining; it’s just stupid.
Captured digitally but fitted with a quite pleasing artificial grain structure, The Day won’t win any “instantly appealing” awards. Desaturation, as a term, carries purpose. This is more than that. It’s a wonder why the decision wasn’t made to blanket the film with gray scale and call it a day. Drizzling browns and yellows barely peak up from windows, and the light blue glaze cast over the nighttime material only serves to wash out the black levels.
Well served is compression, only a singular shot revealing any digital-ness in the image. It’s a foggy approach from the cannibals that breaks down into banding and hard-to-miss artifacts. The non-grain is handled with care.
Behind all of these elements is some fidelity, light as it can be scattered throughout the piece. Tense close-ups break through a general photographic softness, beads of sweat, pores, and facial hair strongly resolved when the camera settles down enough. Too often it’s shaky for effect. Plain landscapes and tall grass are well resolved. Individual blades of grass waving in the wind can be striking.
What’s missing from everything though is depth, the fault not of this disc. Black doesn’t enter the equation, sedate browns and blues as mentioned above the dominant force. Critical nighttime shots appear washed out rather than dense. The impact will be menial, and the lack of crush in a movie trying to appear so harsh does have its appeal.
The Day’s TrueHD mix will find itself struggling to level off, the droning score capturing a huge chunk of the low-end no matter if its blocks off other effects. Shotgun blasts and physical blows carry limited oomph in comparison.
When calmed down and allowed to focus on the elements, especially rain in the opening or light winds, the track is a winner. Dialogue has a fantastic natural stereo split at a few points as well, placing the actor right in the listener’s room. A creaky house means plenty of groaning wood to signal the arrival of unwanted guests.
Generally, The Day doesn’t rely much on spooky happenings, direct in its approach. Only one kill has a swirling effect of brush being pushed aside and branches snapping. It’s late, but the design is handled with precision as someone travels with clean motion through the soundfield.
A trailer and a commentary from director Doug Aarniokoski, producer Guy Danella, & writer Luke Passmore mark the bonus features.
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