by Gus Constantellis
“The Day,” at a very short 84 minutes, is a fast-paced and relentlessly gory post-apocalyptic thriller. The film takes place over a 24 hour period, as five survivors of a cannibalistic future struggle to find food and shelter, while also struggling to find “hope and faith” in a story about betrayal, trust and family.
From the opening shot, the film is colored with grays and pastels. It has a very consistent and dark atmosphere throughout, and very brief, if none, moments of levity or humor. The tone of the first half of the film is perfect. The main five characters live in a frightening, lonely and mysterious future, and the audience feels that in every shot. The audience understands the pain and suffering that has befallen the five characters, through quick flashbacks, tears and silence.
The main five characters, played by an excellent set of actors, including Dominic Monaghan from “Lost,” all have secrets and tragedies, which are carried with them in every line of dialogue. The most interesting aspect of the film is how much it leaves unsaid. The audience never truly knows what happened to the characters completely. The audience never knows why the world ended, and why so few survivors were left. And the audience never knows exactly what the film has up its sleeve, which makes it all the much scarier. The exposition is left to a bare minimum, which works wonders for the atmosphere of the film. The audience only knows what it needs to know.
The violence in the film is astounding. It leaves nothing behind and shows the audience every piece of blood and guts spewed about. One of the film’s best scenes is reminiscent of the torture scene in “Reservoir Dogs.” While the scene runs about five minutes too long, it makes the audience realize just how far the characters are willing to go for their own survival. The second half of the film, easily the most violent, is excellent, and carries a surprisingly absurd ending.
However, the second half also contains the film’s main antagonist, Father (Michael Eklund), who is easily the worst part of the film. While a necessary character, Father feels too much like an ‘80s action movie villain, and doesn’t fit the tone of the film. His scenes are silly, and his wardrobe and acting take away from the seriousness of the entire film.
“The Day” contains many exciting twists and surprises, and is practically a non-stop action fest. But the characters feel real, their emotional arcs are compelling and their decisions are consistent. The story never falters because of the violence and action, and contains a powerful message about family and survival in the darkest of circumstances.
Gus Constantellis is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.