“The Day” runs about eighty-seven minutes in length. It features a number of recognizable actors. There’s violence at the beginning, middle and end, and many characters die, mostly with an explosion of blood. The story takes place over the course of one day, and though the image is saturated, we see the sun go down, and eventually come back up again. There is an orchestral score of grinding guitars as well. Some further detective work will conclude that yes, this is a movie.
“The Day” takes place in a rural area where an unspoken disaster (The Republican National Convention?) has led five survivors to band together to navigate the wilderness. The pack is led by Rick (Dominic Monaghan), who can read a map and bark orders, so we assume he’s the Leader. Also in the group is Henson (Cory Hardrict), the Black Guy, who comes equipped with a Movie Cough letting us know that he’s surely due to expire soon. Shannon (Shannyn Sossamon) wields a machete, but spends most of the time crying and emotionally reaching out to the others in the group. She’s also The One Who Gets Naked.
Bearded Adam (Shawn Ashmore) is the grizzled Seen-It-All Dude who no longer has an emotional attachment with anyone, given that we later learn he has a Tragic Past. Finally, there’s the mostly silent Mary (Ashley Bell), master of all weapons, including the “emotional shutdown,” which she removes when someone wants to talk about their predicament by responding, “Don’t.” She’s lithe and asexual, because she’s the Badass Chick. It’s an apocalypse. These guys probably know how to act because of movies like “The Day.”
The crew, attempting to reach some random checkpoint because there’s always an oasis in the desert, decide to shack up in an abandoned home even though it might as well be labeled TRAP HOUSE. It’s not long before hey find themselves taking up arms against marauding band of… Other Guys, ones who claim this land because some groups of people just have to be genocidal gangs, and others have to be murderous survivors just trying to live one more day, so they can walk around and get covered in dirt a little longer. Also, pose. There are a lot of dramatic post-kill poses in this film. You’d totally play “The Day” on XBox Live.
Aside from the suggestion that Mary may be withholding A Secret, because there’s always someone with A Secret, there’s not much else to “The Day” other than a group of people fighting another group of people. In theory, of course. Director Douglas Aarnikoski adheres to the rules of Gritty Intense Action by shaking that camera up, distorting (or perhaps electrifying!) what amounts to a few close-quarters gunfights and some violent stabbings. It’s all about keeping things professional, given that this is what viewers expect from modern-day action films. “The Day” captures the dirt and grime underneath characters’ fingernails, because who needs context when you’re creating pretty pictures? After all, “The Day” is a movie.
From the half hour mark, the violence is unrelenting, as if to compensate for the despair and bleakness of the intro. It’s scored by something called Rock Mafia, which provide a bone-crunching guitar-fest that sounds suspiciously like the theme from “28 Days Later” played on a loop, because that too is a movie, albeit one that’s a decade old. That might as well be a lifetime to the intended audience for “The Day,” which comes to you courtesy of WWE Films, though it’s a considerable departure from their recent family-friendly approach. But it does make sense that the audience for post-apocalyptic films will start out with the Speak & Spell version of this premise, a knuckle-dragging time waster you could predict with your eyes closed. But hey. It’s a movie. [F]