The Day: Toronto Review

The Day film still - 2011
Tale of apocalypse survivors being hunted by cannibals is heavier on attitude than believability.

Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell and Dominic Monaghan star in director Doug Aarniokoski's post-apocalypse survival tale.

A post-apocalypse survival tale that cares far more about tough-guy posturing than believability or logic, Doug Aarniokoski's The Day sports enough violence and name recognition to stand a chance in theaters but is unlikely to please the genre's most discriminating fans.

Shot in a palette so drained it's nearly monochrome, the movie follows a quintet of travelers who hole up in an abandoned farmhouse while hunting for food and trying to avoid roving cannibal clans. Led by Rick (Dominic Monaghan), the team consists of three high-school buddies and two women they've met along the way -- one of whom, Ashley Bell's Mary, is a recent addition and barely talks. (Trying to be convincing as a hardened "lone wolf," Bell maintains an inflexible scowl and works a prop cigarette for all it's worth.)

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The house proves too close to a cannibal camp, though, and becomes the site of a siege in which, not to spoil too much, not all our heroes will survive -- or even necessarily make it to the second act. The grim, high-stakes stance Aarniokoski takes here is appropriate, if potentially monotonous, but Luke Passmore's script defies belief as it gets the quintet deeper into trouble. Why, for example, would the men conserve ammunition when using it could save their lives, then squander three bullets killing foes who are stuck in a trap?

The story also presents cast members with some strange challenges, as when second-in-command Adam slices a chunk of thigh off a captive at one moment and is defending her from comrades shortly after. Shawn Ashmore can't quite sell the shift, but he at least doesn't look ridiculous trying. The wrong notes increase as the movie approaches its climactic battle, an underwhelming episode whose staging defies belief.

Venue: Toronto International Film Festival
Production Company: Guy A. Danella Productions/Follow Through Productions/Rock Mafia/Preferred Content/Faction M
Cast: Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell Cory Hardrict, Dominic Monaghan, Shannyn Sossamon.
Director: Doug Aarniokoski
Screenwriter: Luke Passmore
Producer: Guy A. Danella
Executive producers: Michael Finley, Tim James, Antonina Armato, Ross M. Dinerstein, Doug Aarniokoski
Director of photography: Boris Mojsovski
Production designer: Lisa Soper
Music: Rock Mafia
Editor: Andrew Coutts
Sales: Content Media Corporation International
No rating, 89 minutes