If you’re wondering what Lance Henriksen has been up to recently, you’ll probably be interested in his latest movie, Daylight’s End, which is set for a limited release tomorrow. It’s a film that hearkens back to various post apocalyptic staples from over the years, from Resident Evil 2 to Mad Max 2. Director William Kaufman’s low budget movie will probably fly under the radar, so it might be of interest to those who like their zombie fix. It also stars Johnny Strong (of The Fast and the Furious fame) front and centre.
We are in the aftermath of the world’s end and a plague has stricken humanity that turns the infected into zombie-like cannibals. They’re not your typical ‘walkers’ however, falling somewhere between the intelligent monsters from I Am Legend and the rabies-crazed runners from 28 Days Later. They tend to only move at night and follow the influence of an ‘alpha’ (Krzysztof Soszynski) and this instance, a group of survivors led by Frank Hill (Lance Henriksen) are held up in a fortified building in an abandoned city, but they’re not going to hold out for long. A shell of a man and road warrior, Thomas Rourke (Johnny Strong), shows up and agrees to assist in a break out in return for supplies, towards a newly found plane. Rourke has experience in killing ‘alphas’, which Hill finds valuable.
This film has some good things going for it. A nice cast, with Henriksen as you’d expect putting in the hours and not phoning it in despite the small scale of the movie. And while Strong’s character is somewhat flat and clichéd, he’s pretty accessible as an actor and easy to follow. It makes me wonder, by the way, why Strong is the only man who has never been invited to return to those Fast and Furious ensemble parties (each sequel, I mean). The guy is a bona fide martial artist and leader himself, I hear, so maybe ‘Daddy’ (this is what Diesel likes to be called on set) didn’t like that. Anyway, back to this movie…
You should pretty much know to expect with a movie like this, probably the worst. However I found it to be average, which I think is probably an achievement. The usual things happen, bitten heroes stay behind, swarming occurs and such. Most of this happens in a nice looking city, one which I don’t recognise, but definitely in North America. Some junctions and roads were definitely licensed out. Along with the fairly decent cast, it helps the movie.
There’s a big problem here though. The dreaded CGI muzzle flashing and blood splatter is here in abundance, this is a growing problem in B-movies, especially the fake recoil actions and gore. Too often, it took me out of the horror moment and in many areas it looks very bad. The movie, with its limited story, is also too long. Cheap movies like this must know their limitations and appreciate that fatigue for the viewer is going to come more readily. Instead of the one hour and forty five or so minutes that it was, they should’ve been aiming harder for sub-90. 80 even. There is too much downtime here and there. This is a pity to me, the cinematography and acting otherwise gave the movie a strong chance, but they should have focused more on practical effects and pacing.
Although I wouldn’t be keen on recommending this movie, it has a growing favourite actor of mine in it. Sonny Puzikas is a former Spetsnaz operative turned actor and media personality. A while back I caught him on TV in a show about normal civilians tackling fears and obstacle courses and such. They were drilled by ex commandos from various armies. Many of these instructors yelled and screamed at their recruits, getting nowhere. But Puzikas was calm and cool as fuck and encouraged his recruits, getting the best out of them. He’s instantly likeable and has huge screen presence, he’s cool as fuck as the Russian soldier in this movie. I would have liked to have seen more from him.
In closing, perhaps in creating an average movie, they’ve achieved something here, but although it won Best Picture (Feature) at Comicpalooza Houston, it’s nothing worth writing home about.