DARKEST DAY

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 8th May 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Dan Rickard

Cast: Dan Rickard, Chris Wandell, Samantha Bolter, Richard Wilkinson, Christiane van Wijk, Christian Wise, Adrienne Wandell, Simon Bennett-Leyh, Simon Drake

Writer: Will Martin, Simon Drake & Dan Rickard

Trailer: No trailer available.

Review below by Joe Pesci II

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “DARKEST DAY

  1. Review by Joe Pesci II aka if you get bitten by a potato could you become a zombie?

    Brighton seems to be a hive of film-making activity, which is a good thing. And one day we might even get a good film from that creative town. In the meantime we have to deal with unspeakable tripe like NAZI VENGEANCE, interesting failures like THE SLEEPING ROOM and the film under discussion here, which falls somewhere between the two.

    A young man awakes on a beach. How did he get there? And why does Brighton (referred to throughout only as ‘the city’) look like it’s recovering from a quite rowdy Saturday night? Fortunately our young man (called Dan and played by a real-life Dan (Rickard) who also made the film) runs into a young couple who are going shopping (or scavenging for scraps in the post-apocalyptic wastes if you prefer). Alas these shopper-scavengers become scavenged when a zombie lumbers up and mistakes them for dinner. Yes, DARKEST DAY is a Brighton-based zombie film (and you won’t find any jokes of the ‘you-wouldn’t-be-able-to-tell-the-difference-if-Brighton-was-invaded-by-zombies’ here).

    Dan and his surviving new friend (who really should hate him as he’s just caused her boyfriend’s death but it’s Brighton so she’s probably not that fussed) run off and arrive at the latter’s house. She lives in what appears to be a shared student house with a bunch of under-used actors. One of them tells Dan the background: zombies are on the rampage, triggered by some sort of virus thing, but no-one knows how it’s transmitted (including the film-makers). The city has been evacuated, but the students seem happy to stay behind in the quarantine zone because they’re students and don’t have to pay for anything now. EXCEPT WITH THEIR LIVES!

    Dan joins the group with effortless ease (apart from a confrontation with the house’s alpha male, played by Chris Wandell with a funny voice and an alarming absence of the machismo he supposedly exudes). There then ensues a period of the film best described as Hollyoaks-lite (is that possible?) as Dan finds himself almost in some sort of unspoken/apathetic love triangle. After getting bumped on the head by Wandell’s sister (who is played by two people – one on screen and another in the dubbing studio) we return to the zombie storyline. Suddenly soldiers start turning up, and Dan begins having hospital-based flashbacks.

    The students apathetically decide to go on the run with both zombies and soldiers chasing after them, and they are picked off in the time-honoured way. Meanwhile Dan’s memories begin to make more sense. And it all becomes clear when the lazy students accidentally catch a soldier who obligingly tells them the rest of the back-story.

    At its heart there’s quite an interesting story going on. Unfortunately the film decides

    not to bother telling that story (amnesiac on the run not sure why he’s on the run) and instead centres itself on the bunch of dull bedsit-dwelling students who seem so lethargic that they can’t be bothered to be evacuated to safety despite Sussex being

    ravaged by the ZOMBIE FUCKING APOCALYPSE. (‘Sallright, says one character, ‘we’ve got food and a bed and Treasure Island – what more do we need?’ I’m paraphrasing by the way.). One can understand certain elements of society choosing to risk life with zombies, and the film might have been (would have been) more interesting if it had chosen to follow the lives of people who would make that choice. But this lot aren’t people living on the edge: they’re neither adrenaline junkies, nor are they the hopeless, dispossessed or disenfranchised. They seem to be living in a zombie-infested city simply because moving out will be too much trouble. Maybe that’s a comment on the alleged apathy of the young(ish), though really it’s just a symptom of the film-makers’ inability to engage with their own scenario. And besides, although the students are the epitome of apathy the military are the personification of incompetence. Actually, maybe the film is a searing state of the nation film after all…

    The film looks like one of those labour of love projects, and is executed pretty impressively by the standards of movie-making as a hobby. There’s some good model work and some bad CGI. The music is pretty good and was composed by Richard Wilkinson who appears as one of the more interesting supporting characters. The film favours the frenetic editing approach to zombie violence, which is effective but becomes tedious as the same approach is used each time. Still, it means that any deficiencies in make-up and gore are impossible to see. Acting is, as you would expect, variable, not helped by the dubbing (several actors are completely re-voiced, noticeably so). Dan Rickard plays the role of confused amnesiac pretty well, but he’s an anonymous leading man. He’s miles better than Wandell as his sceptical landlord, who shouts a lot and wouldn’t be able to beat up a teddy bear (though there was a scene which I cannot remember where he apparently does cause lots of rather good carnage). Samantha Boulter is good as the best buddy / would-be girlfriend / plot explainer (though her character would probably have got killed a week before the events occur but never mind). Yes, this lot don’t give the impression that they’d last five minutes when the zombie apocalypse arrives. And the chronology seems wrong. At one point Chris Wandell says he was right about our hero from day one, which, by my calculations was all of yesterday. But then again, time is relative, especially if you don’t have to worry about getting to work because of all the rampaging zombies in the way.

    DARKEST DAY is a muddle of zombie-isms and soap opera antics, which could have been interesting if better written (that gives me an idea for ZOMBIES IN WALFORD). It’s a hobby film and not for consumption for normal film-goers, but it’s much better than others of its ilk (like GANGSTER, GUNS AND ZOMBIES) and its very existence proves that the good folk of Brighton aren’t as lazy as the film makes out.

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