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rochefort [Film Festival 09.26.11] Canada post apocalyptic movie review horror

Year: 2011
Directors: Douglas Aarniokoski
Writers: Luke Passmore
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 3 out of 10

If any site serves as proof for just how many variations can exist on cinematic post-apocalyptic scenarios, it's obviously this one. And when a fest like Fantastic Fest pretty reliably features at least a couple of films in this subgenre every year, coupled with the fact that PA has had a mainstream resurgence of late, I feel it's valid to critique each new entry on a slightly harsher curve. I mean, there are so many excellent examples of how to do this kind of story right that the rip-offs and wannabes are starting to stand out ever more distinctly. "The Day", director Douglas Aarniokoski's take on life after an unnamed catastrophe has reduced the majority of the population to armed cannibals, could very well be a sign of what the most polished but insincere future entries will look like.

It's been ten years since the disaster struck, and a group of five survivors led by Rick (Dominic Monaghan) and Adam (Shawn Ashmore) are headed to greener pastures to try and find a place to plant some rare vegetable seed. They're low on ammo and food, and one of their number, Henson (Cory Hardrict) is extremely sick, so they break from their usual protocol and hole up in an abandoned two-story house. Their newest member Mary (Ashley Bell) is the coldest of the group, is an almost superhuman fighter, and has yet to earn the trust of Shannon (Shannyn Sossamon), who wonders if maybe Mary has more in common with the group than with the cannibal clan that is almost certainly soon to come.

The brutal truth is that this is The Road by way of Dawson's Creek. As passable as its production values happen to be, The Day never, ever shakes off the awareness that everything it does The Road did more brutally, more convincingly, and in a much more emotionally resonant way. It almost feels as if "The Day" can only exist because McCarthy's book and the resulting adaptation are both pretty hard to get through, and perhaps this lite version fills the void for all the people who want more slam-bang action and cheap one-liners than all that depressing dramatic stuff.

A great deal of the blame must fall on writer Luke Passmore, who greedily culls his plot points and characterizations from the best of the subgenre and offers virtually nothing new. Making matters worse is the fact that most of the characters are so young and pretty, even underneath all that strategically-placed dirt and grime. And the supposed badass of the group, Mary, is convincingly hard and cold only about half the time. Her portrayal starts to go downhill when she lights up a cigarette; actress Bell is clearly a non-smoker, and it's glaringly obvious. I was willing to let some the youth angle go at first, thinking that the story logic was simply that the older folks are slower and would be easier to pick off. But then, mid-movie, a lesser villain appears, a cannibal no less, with such exquisitely gelled and styled hair that I realized things were probably about to get much, much worse.

And yeah, they do. By film's end we've had pretty much every cliche of every siege movie you've ever seen dusted off and pretty much thrown at the audience without so much as a tweak or twist. Characters frequently deliver dialogue that would have sounded hammy a decade ago, the noble sacrifices are cheesy, and the entire cast is consistently let down by a script that is aggressively common. There's lots of action, though, and the blood flows freely, so I'm sure it'll connect with the completists. But to all of us who take pride in what the best PA can achieve, it's probably smartest to go into this one with the lowest possible expectations.

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j.j. (10 years ago) Reply

How does trash like this still get financed, when there are so many awesome, fresh indie film scripts out there that are still waiting in the wings? No surprise that this garbage was programmed by fantastic Fest. They once had a short film about a guy killing someone with a spoon that went on about 20 mins too long. You have mindless Hollywood on one extreme, and pretentious fan-boy films on the other. We want more films in the middle.


papaswamp (10 years ago) Reply

Well bummer…I was hoping for something decent.

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