WWE Studios was founded in 2002, and in the ten years it hasexisted, the studio has produced a number of films for the theatrical and home video market based around wrestling personalities. None of them have been particularly great, but they do offer a certain amount of fun, like See No Evil (featuring Kane) and The Condemned (with Stone Cold Steve Austin). With The Day, we have the first WWE production that does not feature any wrestlers. It may also be their best movie yet.
The Day is an engrossing tale of a post-apocalyptic world. I can actually see this taking place in the same world as The Road. They are both set in a desolate world after some unknown apocalyptic event. There are virtually no people or animals around, food is scarce, and there are gangs of cannibals looking for meat. It is not a pretty or a safe world, it is, quite literally, an eat or be eaten world. Still, it is a familiar type of tale and it makes no real effort to disguise its influences. At the same time it stands on its own as an interesting story of friendship and survival.
As The Day opens, we meet our group of survivors walking down a long-abandoned highway. One of their number is sick so they decide to seek refuge in an old farmhouse. They do not want to stay long, as there is always the danger of a cannibal gang arriving on their doorstep.
Drama is built through tension among the members of the group, arguing about staying in the house, where to go next, and how the newest member is not exactly social. Predictably, this new member is not exactly who they seem to be. Secrets are revealed and decisions have to be made. On top of that. they learn the cannibals are on their way and they are not all that distant. Their choice becomes run and likely be caught, or stay in the house and make a stand. Watch the movie, and you will learn the choice they make and the consequences.
The Day is really a surpisingly good movie. What makes it work is the interplay of the actors. This group of performers sell the situation, the feeling of being lost, the uncertainty of the future, and the way they act like a dysfunctional family. It is all rather involving as each player’s role emerges.
Particularly noteworthy is Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism), who plays Mary. Her expressions and movements convey a lot without saying much, bringing a lot of emotion and strength to the screen. Likewise, Shawn Ashmore (The Ruins) gives a solid performance as Adam, a man forced to make some difficult choices.
There is great use of atmosphere. Everything is shot in a washed-out, nearly black and white fashion, making everything that much colder and foreboding. It has this great worn down look, as if it was really sitting around for decades without being touched. Believe me, believable atmosphere goes a long way in making a movie like this work.
Again, is The Day original? Not really, but so what? If a story is good and the execution is strong, a movie can work. This one does. It has characters worth spending time with and gives just enough to make you wonder what happened. You become invested in this world, I know I wanted to see and learn more about it.
Audio/Video. The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Shot digitally on the RED camera, the movie looks good. It has gone through major filtering and post-production color changes, and the resulting image borders on black and white. The washed out palette is dominated by steel grey/blue. Detail is good, particularly in close ups. There are a few dark night scenes that get a little muddy, but overall nothing to really complain about.
The audio is a Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 tack. It is a good sounding track, mostly front and center, there are some nice sound effects that flow all the way around you. Directionality is good and the dialogue is always understandable. Certainly a solid tack.
Extras. There is not much to speak of.
- Commentary. The track features director Doug Aarniokoski, producer Guy Donella, and writer Luke Passmore. It is a fun track, they clearly enjoyed making his movie and it was fun to listen to them all about it.
Bottomline. The Day is certainly better than what I was expecting. I thought the post-apocalyptic tale was handled well and it is involving all around. You are given just enough to know what is going on and not enough to keep you from theorizing about what happened to the world and where these people came from.