This weekend, I watched the 2007 American zombie film Days of Darkness. It was definitely a good effort, and it tried to break some new and interesting ground, but ultimately I didn’t quite feel it succeeded.
One thing I will say for Days of Darkness is that it gets going right from the first frame. A zombie-creating asteroid whips toward the earth during the opening credits, and in the first two minutes zombies attack a sexually abstemious young couple (who, perhaps per horror-movie rules, survive because of their abstemiousness), the male is bitten, and the two find their way to a government complex where a group of survivors is holding out.
The survivors are interesting and varied, yet all seem vaguely familiar character-types for a zombie film. There’s:
- A tough and practical (but still sexy) female
- A retired adult film actress
- The jailbait daughter of the retired adult film actress
- A quiet, strong African-American guy
- A mean, bullying, gym-teacher-type white guy
- A noble and unfairly-maligned gay guy
- A sleazy and drunk (but now terrified and penitent) used-car salesman
- A preachy religious nut whom everybody hates
These characters are a full spice-rack of powerful–if not entirely exotic–flavors, yet they’re combined to make a rather unimpressive dish. (Yes, yes… My last movie review also included culinary analogies, and I’m doing it again here.) Days of Darkness is long on exposition, but short on zombies. If this exposition were daring or interesting (like in a Kevin Smith film), this might be a fine thing. Unfortunately, it’s uninspired and tends to revolve around petty spats between characters. Also, the zombies are some of the worst-looking I’ve seen in recent film. They just look like a bunch of angry guys with nosebleeds. (They’re not even pale. What the heck!?!)
Days of Darkness does make a laudable attempt to break new ground by connecting a zombie outbreak to themes surrounding human reproduction. There is a mysterious “immaculate conception” among one of the female characters, and the male zombies appear to lose their penises in favor of strange growths. I’ll let you discover what they do with this, but suffice to say, by the end it’s more of a “monster film” than a “zombie film.”
In conclusion, Days of Darkness tries to break some interesting new ground, but gets bogged down by lousy zombies and characters who are more colonnades than buildings.
Here’s the trailer: