A clumsily assembled, subpar horror thriller pits five rag-tag survivors of an unexplained violent event against a cannibal clan.

Pretentious grindhouse item “The Day,” a clumsily assembled, subpar horror thriller from helmer Doug Aarniokoski, pits five rag-tag survivors of an unexplained violent event against a cannibal clan. Stuffed with visual elements appropriated from superior genre titles, the pic offers plenty of splatter action, a little torture porn and a kick-ass female protagonist who knows her way around weapons as its main selling points. But weak thesping, trivial dialogue and utter disregard for the genre satisfactions of the post-apocalyptic survivor tale will limit the market.

Trapped in an abandoned house, the five soon become four: callow comrades Adam (Shawn Ashmore), Henson (Cory Hardrict), and Shannon (Shannyn Sossamon), and closemouthed loner Mary (Ashley Bell, soberly game), whose reluctance to discuss her past masks a secret that the others eventually extract in extremely unpleasant ways. But Mary’s special skills and background prove essential when the human flesh-eaters from the forest attack. Lack of compelling information about the nature of this apocalyptic world, or any character complexity, gives viewers little reason to be engaged. Not even the striking shades of gray lensing, mythic compositions and appropriately bleak wilderness setting provide any real weight.

The Day

Production

A Guy A. Danella production in association with Follow Through Prods., Rock Mafia, Preferred Content, Faction M. (International sales: Content Media Corp. Intl., Santa Monica, Calif.) Produced by Guy A. Danella. Executive producers, Michael Finley, Tim James, Antonina Armato, Ross M, Dinerstein, Doug Aarniokoski. Co-executive producers, Marc Blucas, Stan Golden, Nima Maleki, Kailey Marsh, Robert Menzies. Co-producers, Shawn Ashmore, Dominic, Monaghan. Directed by Doug Aarniokoski. Screenplay, Luke Passmore.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Boris Mojsovski; editor, Andrew Coutts; music, Rock Mafia; production designer, Lisa Soper; costume designer, Candice Beuckx. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Midnight Madness), Sept. 12, 2011. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell, Cory Hardrict, Shannyn Sossamon, Dominic Monaghan, Michael Eklund.

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