Director: Dan Rickard
Screenplay: Dan Rickard, Will Martin
Starring: Dan Rickard, Christopher Wandell, Samantha Bolter, Richard Wilkinson, Chistianne van Wijk, Adrienne Wandell,
Producer: Simon Drake
Running Time: 90 min
BBFC Certificate: 15
Darkest Day, a gritty British production which bursts with violence and unsettles from the start is a low-budget zombie rampage. I read that it cost less than a £1000 to make, which I found hard to believe, so I asked and much to my amazement, it’s true. It was originally just going to be a short but grew into a full length zombie whacker. Left Film Distributors, a distributor for independent genre movies worked with BrightHelm Films to bring to the party this debut feature film. It is post-apocalyptic horror, cleverly using the available resources including friends and volunteer zombies to smash the budget barrier down.
Dan (Dan Rickard) wakes up on the beach with his memory in tatters, to find the city deserted and tower blocks ablaze. He needs to find out what has happened and must face the unknown horrors lurking in the shadows of the twisted inverted city. He follows two lone figures through the otherwise deserted streets, the couple think Dan is going to attack them, resulting in a fracas. They realise Dan is not a threat, but too late the damage is done, the commotion has gained the attention of a super speed “28 Days Later” zombie. The troupe fall victim to a gut-munching maniac attack, they lose one of their number but Dan and the girl make it back to the safety. We get to meet the rest of survivors in their hide out. Dan still with depleted memory tries to find out what has happened, the group inform Dan that some sort of neurological virus caused the population to become undead fiends. The group of survivors are worried Dan has attracted the attention of the army, as they are not supposed to be in the city, but should have relocated to safe camps.
The conversation is soon to be disturbed, something is lurking outside the widow, a crazed undead corpse, timed to perfection creates the desired effect, causing paroxysm. The high speed cannibal corpse is dispatched, but the ensuing activity only attracts another, which they manage to defeat using a sheet, not seen that one before. Zombies safely terminated, it’s time to relax and hit the beers; out of the blue one of the girls hits Dan over the head with a beer bottle. It turns out she is not just jealous but has become infected and is turning into one of the undead, a bit of a worry as it looks like you don’t even have to be bitten to turn. She is restrained with parcel tape, her brother, instead of killing her lets her go free. A manic zombie chase ensues throughout the house and Dan does what he has to ...and kills her. Fairly understandably her brother is rather exasperated by this turn of events and he leaves the house to vent his frustrations, and heads off to enjoy a good zombie scrimmage on Brighton beach armed with his Samurai sword.
Dan and the rest of the survivors head off to the local supermarket in search of food where they come head to head with an army deployment who hunt them down mercilessly. The soldiers shoot at Dan and Lisa is shot through the head. Nicely shot with an utter sense of panic, the soldiers start to hunt down and kill the fugitives. Leaving us questioning, who are the real monsters the undead or the army? Dan is forced to kill a soldier and starts to flash back and discovers he is the target of the army.
In a tumultuous finale the army look as if they are getting the upper hand, massacring the undead throng but things turn for the worst and the zombie horde soon overwhelm the army. Dan flashes back and we get some more clues as to his mysterious past, when the survivors capture a soldier they find out the disturbing truth about Dan; now he must do the right thing.
As this cerebral zombie-apocalypse opens, the genuine energy is obvious and we meet the survivors, building empathy, the desired effect is achieved, however tighter dialogue would be preferable, to allow more time for the excellent zombie action. The script was improvised, so it is impressive at this level but still for the sake of the film sharper interaction would have helped hold the attention in this undead caper. I’m left amazed, just how this film was made for just under £1000, a remarkable utilisation of the available resources. Amazingly realistic helicopters fly over-head and the landscape is strewn with abandoned and burnt out cars, outstanding with such a small pot. Maybe by chance there are just a lot of burnt out cars on the streets of Brighton. There are some great derelict scenes with scattered trolleys at the supermarket. I did notice that the council very kindly still managed to mow the grass in the park, even during a zombie holocaust.The fast moving zombie shots are first rate, producing a sense of panic and chaos. Any self-respecting gore-hound would agree the blood was on the insipid side, I’d have liked richer claret, but with this budget, I need to stop complaining.
The special effects are top notch; the burning buildings and army vehicles are noteworthy and would stand up in much bigger budget productions. The camera-work for the zombies is on point with great quality sound and nicely composed music fitting the scenes perfectly. One of the most intriguing films I have seen, I just want to know how they did that, if you have a look at “the Making Of”, it’s all explained.
Darkest Day is out on 25th May in the UK on DVD, I saw the DVD which has excellent picture and sound quality, the special feature " The Making Of" is a must see to gain an inspirational insight into the production of this film.