July 6, 2023

You've Seen DAY ZERO Before

DAY ZERO (Blu-ray)
2022 / 82 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

The problem with the zombie genre is everything’s been done before. There’s nary a structure, city or form of transportation that hasn’t been seen crawling with the undead. We’ve seen it all…from serious to satirical, slow zombies to fast zombies, brain eaters to gut-munchers, ad nauseam. All a filmmaker can do these days is put their own narrative spin on the concept or serve up characters we give a damn about.

The Filipino film, Day Zero, fails to do both, though not for a lack of trying. The result is watchable, but aside from one aspect about the zombies' behavior I found kind of interesting, nothing we haven’t seen before.

The film hits the ground running, with a virus already turning people into raging monsters. Ex-MMA fighter Brandon Vera plays Emon, an incarcerated soldier who manages to fight his way to freedom when zombies infiltrate the prison. With good buddy/comic relief Timoy (Pepe Hererra) in tow, Emon seeks to reunite with his wife, Sheryl (Mary Jean Lastimosa), and deaf daughter. Unfortunately, they’re trapped in their apartment building that’s teeming with zombies. 

Brandon Vera delivers a heartfelt soliloquy.
Other neighbors are stuck there, too, but despite fleeting attempts at character exposition, they mostly exist to become brunch. The film tries real hard to emulate the emotional heft of Train to Busan through Emon’s attempts at reconciling with his family, but neither the script nor Vera’s acting ability are up to such a challenge. He’s a decent physical performer, though, so when dispatching undead hordes (who, of course, attack one-at-a-time), the action is fairly enjoyable.

The zombies themselves are your garden variety sprinters with decent-but-unremarkable make-up. However, the movie does offer a unique element to their behavior…when not on the attack, they go to sleep. So if you're quiet enough, you can creep right past them, which comes in handy on more than one occasion. But for the most part, the story is content to serve up ample amounts of video game-style action and plenty of splattering blood (though little in the way of actual gore).

Running an economical 80 minutes, the film wastes little time getting to the action, so even though we’ve seen it all before and aren’t likely to give it another thought afterwards, at least the thing doesn’t overstay its welcome. Neither the best or worst of its kind, Day Zero is probably best-summarized like this: Of all the zombie movies released in the last twenty years, this is definitely one of them.

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