Days of Darkness
directed by Jake Kennedy
(Lions Gate, 2007)

Well, it's different -- you have to give Days of Darkness that much. The zombies on display here may look like your basic stereotypical zombies, but they aren't -- just trust me on that. These zombies aren't going to scare anybody, but they're more than capable of eliciting a few "yuck" reactions from viewers -- and that turns out to be the film's saving grace.

The first half of Days of Darkness is a train wreck in the making, but writer/director Jake Kennedy eventually manages to pull the whole story from the very brink of bad movie infamy. I'm not saying this is a great zombie movie, but it does succeed in hollowing out a nice little niche for itself in the genre -- which is quite a feat, in my opinion. The shear weirdness of the story makes Days of Darkness worth watching.

Days of Darkness stumbles badly out of the gate, making the viewer feel as if he/she must have missed a major scene or two at the beginning.

After camping out atop a remote hill somewhere, a young couple wake up to find their car covered in a strange dust, and then before you can say "Bob's your uncle," they're being attacked by zombies. Suddenly, a stranger shows up, starts bashing zombies left and right, and then leads our young lovers to a survival headquarters at an abandoned microwave station house of some kind. There, they meet up with quite a collection of characters. Besides your basic stereotypical characters ("bully with a gun," "preacher man," "tough chick"), there's also a quite outspoken former adult movie actress and her virgin teenage daughter. Naturally, they all spend a lot of time arguing about what to do.

At this point, about a third of the way through the film as a whole, I must admit I was not thinking kind thoughts about Days of Darkness. Not only were the characters ignoring the heck out of me, I was still waiting for an explanation as to what set the zombie apocalypse in motion. (Actually -- having read the plot summary -- I knew it started with the crash or near collision of a comet with Earth, but I was still expecting a little elaboration on the subject.)

Finally, at about the midpoint of the movie, things got a little more interesting. Some really unusual -- and pretty nasty -- things happen to the bodies of these zombies, things that made me say "That is just wrong" more than once. And it's not just the zombies -- really weird things are happening to some of the survivors as well. This definitely ain't George Romero's dawn, day or night of the living dead. Be prepared for a lot of bickering among the survivors, especially early on before their numbers start dwindling. Slogging through it won't be easy, but it will all be worth it once you reach the point where the examination of dead zombie bodies begins.

I have to subtract some points for all of the "this movie sucks" moments early on, but I have to admit that I actually sort of enjoyed the overall experience. Say what you will about the dialogue and plot (and, in all honesty, there's plenty to say about both), but you have to give Kennedy some credit for daring to make a different kind of zombie film.

review by
Daniel Jolley

3 July 2010

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