WWE has made it clear in recent years that it wants to be recognized not just as a wrestling company, but as a global entertainment entity. One way that the company has successfully crossed over into other areas of pop culture has been through WWE Studios, which releases films that normally feature WWE stars alongside more established actors. But with its latest release, the post-apocalyptic thriller The Day, there are no wrestlers to be found. In fact, there aren’t many people at all as it focuses on five survivors of some sort of future war that has left little in the way of civilized human interaction.
Before I get into the many confusing flaws of the movie, I’d like to talk about some of the positive aspects of this bleak look at humanity’s future. First, director Doug Aarniokoski’s washed-out approach really adds to the sense of hopelessness and despair that permeates the entire film. And the acting (especially that of The Last Exorcism‘s Ashley Bell) is impressively distraught considering that most of the stars of the film are relative unknowns. As the name implies, The Day takes place over the course of one 24-hour period after this machete-toting bunch happens upon a house in the countryside that appears to be unoccupied and stocked with food and other essentials. It turns out, however, that this house is a giant trap, and it doesn’t take long for a larger, more barbaric group of survivors to show up with a thirst for blood.
Despite the similarities to Night of the Living Dead and other zombie movies, the attackers in The Day are not reanimated corpses or infected by anything. They’re just other people, so it’s never really made clear why they would be out to trap and kill another group of people. I guess the idea is that humanity will revert to its animalistic nature when confronted with such insurmountable odds. But it’s also not clear what those odds are and why there are so few survivors living under such anarchaic conditions.
The film’s biggest star is Dominic Monaghan, who was Raw‘s social media ambassador last Monday (which means he tweeted during the entire broadcast) and is featured prominently in every trailer and poster I have seen for The Day. So it’s a little disappointing that he seems to get less screen time than any one else in the movie. It does, however, give the other actors time to shine and, as I pointed out before, they definitely do a good job of that. Though it is unclear why the thought processes of the individual characters sometimes changes drastically from one scene to the next, that can easily be explained as the type of paranoia and distress that one might suffer while being one of the last people on Earth.
When the warring tribes of survivors enter into their climactic battle, it’s an intensely gory fight that would be a better fit in the old Extreme Championship Wrestling than in today’s PG-rated WWE broadcasts. But since I never figured out why they were fighting, rather than working together to try and reestablish some sort of civility, the broken bones and blood spatters are little more than visceral visuals. While WWE has been focusing more and more on creating engaging wrestling matches and exciting interaction between its competitors as of late, WWE Studios should be taking notes so its next releases offer a little more emotional investment with their action, suspense and drama.