Here is our latest Upstream review, today is dedicated to The Day! With a distinctively different style it is no surprise that The Day is a Canadian film. Made in 2011, it only saw a very limited US release in 2012. Completely off my radar I stumbled onto it while endlessly searching for something to watch late at night. I popped it on, and quickly turned it off, not because it was bad, but because I realized it was
going to be something I wanted to pay attention to and not something I just wanted to fall asleep watching. I have a horrible habit of nodding off when watching movies at night…I’m usually so busy during the day that by the time I sit down to watch something, I’m ready to pass out. I will preface this review with the movie is violent, and deals with some harsh subject matter; the main plotline includes cannibalism and there is an involved scene with torture. I’m able to handle harsh subject IF there is a reason for it in the plotline, and this movie needed these elements to drive the story forward. OK, off to the MOSTLY spoiler free review
In a world similar to The Road, some unknown disaster has plunged the Earth into a post apocalyptic wasteland. Everything is in short supply, and there appears to be almost no wildlife present. People have divided into two distinct groups, those scavenging to survive and those living off the people who are scavenging. Large clans of survivalists (their term, not mine) lay claim to portions of the landscape. Hunting and trapping unsuspecting nomadic groups trying to make their way to a better place.
The Day is shot in a very muted, almost B&W palette (please note that the pictures in this article are from the press kit and only the last picture shown reflects the actual film’s style). There are hints of color that show through in some scenes, but it is a very stark world and the excellent cinematography by Boris Mojsovski (Taken & 12 Monkeys TV shows) reflects that. Starring Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, Lost) as the leader of a small nomadic group of friends trying to make it to a safe place so one of the comrades can rest up and get over being ill. His best friend is played by Sean Ashmore (X-Men, The Following) who gives a convincing performance as a father who has lost both his wife and daughter to marauding cannibals. The whole cast puts in fantastic performances, but Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism Parts I & II, Walking Dead webisodes “The Oath“) , who is a newcomer to the group and therefore a suspect outsider, drives perhaps the most compelling scenes. The pace is good and director Douglas Aarniokoski (2nd unit director on From Dusk Till Dawn) did a great job of keeping things believable and interesting at the same time.
The Day is not your typical “siege” movie where an outnumbered force decides to take a stand against a larger oppressor. There is real drama and a sense of hopelessness that all the actors bring out in the story. There certainly were some “don’t go in the basement” and “what the hell are you thinking?” moments, but for the most part you understand where the characters are coming from and they make smart choices. The final act of the movie is a battle that really reminded me of the original Night of the Living Dead where wave after wave of mindless attackers whittle down the stubborn band of survivors. I’m very happy I found this film On Demand and that I took the time to properly enjoy it, it was worth it! If you know of a hidden gem on any of the various streaming/online services drop us a message and let us know about it, maybe it will get featured on a future “Upstream” article 🙂