Thursday, 5 September 2013

Days of Darkness - review

2007 (USA)

Contains spoilers.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Days of Darkness is unquestionably one of the worst films I've reviewed, an inconsistent and frankly ludicrous mish-mash of ideas, excruciating dialogue, laughable effects, terrible zombies with minimal make-up and all played out slightly too seriously, and all slightly too forced. It's even been filmed or transferred poorly with a picture that appears grainy and far older than it is. It's what WTD would call a right stinker.

It's amazing what can happen over night, no truly. Couple Steve (Travis Brorsen) and Mimi (Roshelle Baier) have spend the evening camping under the stars, drinking champagne and looking wistfully into each others eyes. Returning down the mountain in the morning with a skip in their step, they're immediately confronted by a world destroyed by zombie apocalypse with undead, roaming free and unbound. Even though they've only been out the picture for the night , and fortunately for them, a group of desperate survivors have managed to escape the maelstrom and hole up in a convenient, and local 'decommissioned NORAD microwave centre or something', and they just happened to send one of their group out to look for anyone still alive and human.

What makes or breaks a tight low budget end of the world character drama is funny enough, the characters. Unfortunately the disparate group Steve and Mimi end up tired, confused and hungry with are a trite, uninteresting self centred ensemble with no redeeming qualities and not a single good idea between them. From Kylie (Marian Tomas Griffin) the self-pitying ex-porn star who can't go thirty seconds without mentioning how many men (or animals I kid you not) she had sex with the previous week to the instantly unlikeable Chad (Tom Eplin) the misogynist bully boy producer/ranch owner, to Trent (John Lee Ames) the bible quoting cliché bigot who blames the uprising on 'faggots', they're a horrible bunch, poorly realised with bad lines, poor direction and little or shallow depth. Never did I feel any connection with any of them and never did I really care if any of them lived or died.

And die most of them did, though not through bites, scratches or in any expected traditional zombie way. Days of Darkness (though it's never actually dark during the day, anyhoo) is a film of two parts. The first half of the film is a poor mans zombie survival story as the group struggle to come to terms with what has happened and how they might survive for longer than a few days. We soon start to suspect this may be a film off the beaten survival track though as Steve's early bite fails to fester, and this fact is picked up on by the group. The second big hint that we're not dealing with your common-or-garden zombie infection is Herbert's (William Cannon) a zombie chained up in the basement, genitals falls off and is replaced by an egg sack and alien hybrid embryo.

The zombies you see are being controlled by alien parasites which are using them as incubators for their hybrid alien off spring which will then be free to take over the planet, and the reason Steve didn't catch zombie-itus through the bite, is that the parasite is air born in the dust off a recently dissipated comet, and everyone who could catch it has already done so. Everyone breathed it in, everyone died and everyone became a host, and it sounds like an alien slam-dunk to me, except, and I won't spoil it for you, there's one thing they didn't count on and it's the reason these few guys survived. My first thought though, was if this is really a cause for immunity, not only would I be fine, but I'd expect a pretty high survival rate here across Europe too.

This second half story of Invasion of the Body snatchers mixed with Alien is in truth a bit better than the survival stuff and even managed to evoke the odd moment of tension and raise a smile. They're brief mind, let's not get carried away and all daft and badly presented, but they're still moments. I should mention the zombies too. They're pretty crap. I'm guessing the only quality the director mandated from the many people who volunteered to stagger about, arms outstretched with a smidgen of blood on their face was an ability to groan grrrr and gurgle a bit. They're never frightening or visceral and as I watched them casually flounder at the survivors (with remarkable success at times I might add) or jostle the camps fence limply, I couldn't help remark their base-behaviour was more slightly agitated than rabid.

It's not a good film. Even taking into account it's extremely limited budget it's not a good film. The meandering narrative and totally uninteresting characters and dialogue ultimately pound the film into the halls of mediocrity, and it's certainly not something I'll look back with, never mind fond, any memories at all. I will say the acting for the lines and shallow characters is reasonably strong, but with such drivel to work with, whether it's a long rambling back tales recanting their final few hours, or one of the many forced clumsy arguments or exchanges, like the narrative there's never a moment it feels convincing or interesting. A strange film that desperately feels like it wants to be a b-movie but fails in all ways to be funny, witty or particularly over the top, missing the point entirely, 2/10.



  1. Yeah I saw some of this... it was unbelievably awful.

    1. Thanks for following. Yeah, it really was a turkey and it's actually my only (1) to date; even worse than osombie which is really saying something.

    2. I'm glad I avoided Osombie then. I was happy to see you liked Dance of the Dead. I was really surprised how good that one was.

    3. You dodged a bullet there. Some films are kind of so bad they become good(ish). Osombie is just plain awful. Dance of the Dead is a real bucket of fun; it knows exactly what it is and executes it all with quite a lot of skill.