This week in movies you missed: Would The Road be better with ass kicking? WWE Studios decided to find out.
What You Missed
Six raggedly dressed, well-armed, photogenic young people hike along a country road in what appears to be a normal stick-season landscape. Because everything has been digitally drained of color, however, we can safely assume something apocalyptic has happened.
Our heroes (played by Dominic Monaghan of “Lost" and hobbit fame, Shawn Ashmore, Shannyn Sossamon, Ashley Bell and Cory Hardrict) explore a deserted farmhouse and discover a precious cache of food cans. But something is tracking them. It transpires that the house is a potential death trap where the group will make a valiant, budget-friendly last stand. For, you see, nothing has grown on earth in 10 years, and our friends are among the last survivors who haven’t become cannibals.
Why You Missed It
Made in Canada, Doug Aarniokoski’s flick reached 12 U.S. theaters and grossed only about $21,000.
Should You Keep Missing It?
If nothing else, The Day proves that Ashley Bell deserves a better career. The star of The Last Exorcism carries this movie as Mary, a grim, battle-scarred young woman who is hiding an ugly secret from her companions. (Someone should have told her that if you don’t want people to see a tattoo on your thigh, it's best not to wear a flippy, thigh-length dress. Really, there’s never a good reason for thigh-high skirts after the apocalypse.)
Combined with that bleak, starkly lit landscape, Bell’s demeanor gives the film a few iotas of credibility. Stealing the premise wholescale from Cormac McCarthy also helps its cause. Just like in The Road, we’re never told what wasted our planet; all that matters is that strangers want to eat you. And they’re smarter and more articulate than zombies! It’s the ultimate paranoid fantasy.
Luke Passmore’s script is pretty weak, but there isn’t much dialogue, so it doesn’t matter. The film has enough extreme violence to satisfy genre fans, though it’s not particularly well filmed or choreographed, with many fights dark or poorly framed.
That said, for an extremely low-budget apocalyptic exploitation movie, The Day was more watchable than I expected. It stands out for its attempt to depict, however sketchily and ill-informedly, a working society of cannibals, down to the cute wittle man-eating youngsters. I'm not sure why the first cannibal to get a speaking part looked like he'd just popped out of Starbucks in his stylish duster, but as a general principle, cannibals who resemble regular folks are scary.
Verdict: A kid who encountered this flick on late-night cable would probably end up with a few bizarre and traumatic images burned in his or her brain for life, just like I did when I happened to see the end of A Boy and His Dog at age 10. And isn’t that what exploitation cinema is really for?
More New DVDs
The Apparition (Ashley Greene versus a supernatural entity)
Burning Man (Matthew Goode plays a “hunky chef” who has “eye-popping sexual encounters.”)
Step Up Revolution (another dance flick)
Each week in "Movies You Missed," I review a brand-new DVD release picked for me by Seth Jarvis, buyer for Burlington's Waterfront Video, where you can obtain these fine films. (In central Vermont, try Downstairs Video.)
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