Days of Darkness Review
People may scoff at what they see as a life wasted watching horror movies but come the apocalypse and the moment that the dead rise to walk the earth, it will be I who have the last laugh. While others, who are not so familiar with the living dead, nonchalantly stroll up to reanimated corpses to engage them with a cheery, "Hello there!" only to find a shambling ghoul chowing down on their vital organs, I will be the destroyer of zombies. I will lead a makeshift army in hatchbacks, ice-cream vans and tractors up and down the country, leading them into battle with a, "Shoot to the head! Only to the head!" And when the ammunition runs low and we're left with nothing but knives, we will be safe in the knowledge that decapitation is as sure a means as any of survival. Failing that, it will be, as The Evil Dead had it, complete bodily dismemberment. Such is my knowledge of the undead that I will be prepared even for those unexpected moments in life when one might be troubled by the undead. Should we come upon an oasis, I shall be aware of the Nazi zombies that lurk at the bottom of it. And should I ever go swimming with sharks in the Caribbean and see a crusty-faced zombie coming our way along the seabed who seems to be more agile than his landlocked brethren, it'll be a harpoon to the temple. Or to simply let the sharks have their way with him.
Steve Turner (Travis Brorsen) and his girlfriend Mimi (Roshelle Pattison) would have done well to have such knowledge at their fingertips. Following a prologue in which a piece of meteorite breaks off from a larger object in the direction of earth, they arrive back at their car from a drunken camping trip only to find it covered in a strange space dust. Driving back down the mountain, they come upon a strange-looking fellow, bloody of mouth, head and arms tilted to one side and making his way so slowly along the path as to suggest that his feet are on backwards. Not knowing what I do about the undead, Steve and Mimi stop to ask this chap if he's alright, to which he responds by taking a bite out of Steve's arm. This zombie is soon joined by others, although just when you think that Steve and Mimi are fully deserving of their fate, along comes Simon, who, armed with a machete, deals with several zombies before taking our heroes to an abandoned military communications base to wait out the apocalypse.
However, rather than assembling a cast of everyday characters who the audience can identify with and who we might actually want to spend the next eighty minutes in the company of, we have a group even less likely than the Village People (mention of which is not unintentional given the Construction Zombie and Cowboy Zombie mentioned on the IMdB). Chad, who is made out to be the survival expert on account of him having a farm some miles north of their hideout, is later revealed to have a fear of the dark and an inability to actually shoot when it he needs to. There is a female soldier recently discharged from the army, which seems par for the course but the Christian fundamentalist who quotes passages from the Bible at our heroes? The high-rolling car salesmen who spent the night before the apocalypse in a strip club, one of whom must taste sweeter than all the others given how frequently he falls beneath a zombie and is bitten? The porn actress who retired before the arrival of the meteor and who offers use the most choice lines in the movie? I give you, "Look...I have made over 2000 films. I have fucked over 8000 guys. 2013 of them up the ass! And then I got pregnant...so I fucked 70 guys that week but did I abort? No...because I love her!" And it gets better with, "Y'know I fucked nicer animals than you!" And then there is her daughter, who is the most unlikely schoolgirl since those enrolled in Anal Academy, even to a penis slipping out from between her legs at one point.
Give this twenty minutes and a typical audience will be shaking their heads at just how awful it is. And it is bad, as though writer/director Jake Kennedy aimed for the ramshackle charm of a Frank Henelotter film but forgot to make Days Of Darkness fun. The body horror is not unlike Brain Damage while the little alien that creeps around is a not-so-distant cousin of Belial but Kennedy falls far short of the sense of humour that Henenlotter has and cheap though Basket Case was, it's Fortnum & Mason to this film's Aldi. In particular, the stop-motion of Basket Case is a world away from Days Of Darkness, which looks as though it has dangled its alien baby into the set on the end of a fishing line. And is it ever stupid. Steve and Mimi failing to recognise a zombie is one thing but when Lin and Kylie set off in a jeep towards a crowd of zombies without either locking their doors or closing their windows, you will switching sides to cheer on the undead. I wouldn't leave myself that exposed driving through certain areas of Belfast never mind actual zombies but the look of surprise on their faces suggests that the creatures leaning in through the windows of their slowing car and open the doors was something they clearly didn't expect.
Maybe the pity in this is that there is some interesting ideas in the film near its end that, once revealed, will have you thinking back over Days Of Darkness to see if the film's logic holds. And, surprisingly, given how inept it is, it does. One character makes an unlikely appearance as the number of survivors drop to less than a handful and redeems many of his earlier actions but there's never any of the sense of justice present in Romero's zombie films, in which characters meet their end in a manner that's befitting to their behaviour. This lot simply wander (or drive) in the direction of the ghouls and hope for the best. So Days Of Darkness is neither suspenseful nor frightening but it did make this viewer somewhat apprehensive. Well, to be fair to the zombies, they didn't have any such effect, more that when Kylie said that what forced her from the pornography business was an abnormally large penis. "The dick that broke the actress' back!" as she puts it. And this from a woman who enjoyed the company of several horses! Just what size is this penis? He must need a third leg to be sewn into his trousers just to have somewhere to put it. Surely, no normal pants could contain it. And how does the man who bears it manage to both sustain an erection and remain conscious? Should Jake Kennedy ever get the financial means to follow this up, then that's a film I would like to see on the screen. The less of these hopeless zombies the better.
Heavens but this looks bad. So bad that I would have to leave the house and watch the film from a hundred yards away just to avoid seeing all of the spots, white lines and other marks on the source. Not that it would get any more blurry even at that distance. That's simply not possible, not even if it was looked at through two jam jars. And as to what it was filmed on to look this bad, I can only think, given the lack of resolution, that it was onto a cassette tape. However, I don't blame the DVD for the standard of this presentation as everything else on the disc, including the leading idents, looks fine. Saying anything else about it would make as much sense as wearing clothes sewn from candy-floss. All things that would normally matter are irrelevant when the film itself looks this bad.
The DD2.0 audio track is fine in the sense that the dialogue is at least audible but, beyond that, it offers the viewer very little. Just as the picture is as fuzzy as the average bear, so there is background noise and a dullness to the audio track that blunts both the upper and lower ranges. There are no subtitles.
The only extra on this disc is a trailer.