It pains me because I rarely ever go in to a film, let alone an indie film, wanting to dislike it; especially zombie movies. I’m a sucker for apocalyptic zombie movies, and the very good ones can affect me for days. I’m also a fan of sidestepping typical character molds with a focus on the relationships in the LGBTQ corner. “By Day’s End,” though, is not a good movie. “By Day’s End” tries to have its cake and eat it too by forcing a relationship drama within the mold of a pretty cookie cutter zombie movie, when all is said and done.
Carly and Rina, a lesbian couple on the verge of breaking up, are down on their luck and forced to move in to a motel. But mending their relationship is put on hold when a pandemic disease that causes insatiable hunger ravages the world around them. Battling depression and a ravenous horde of flesh-eating zombies, they try to survive the apocalypse armed with only a video camera and a quickly dwindling supply of weapons. If your movie is barely eighty minutes, it’s not really a great idea to spend fourteen of those on literally no narrative progression.
There’s scant build up, as director Michael Souder sprinkles in radio broadcasts about “hysteria” and “riots,” all the while characters Rina and Carly spend most of their time in their motel room bickering with one another and struggling to reconcile with each other. Meanwhile, protagonist Carly walks around with a handheld camera through the entire movie because… well, because. Even the final shoe drops and we meet our first zombie, Carly never stops filming. There’s not even much of a rhyme or reason for her carrying the camera around, which makes the whole found footage format forced. Meanwhile, there isn’t much to enjoy within the realm of the zombie movie. There’s no sense of panic or anxiety, zombies rarely appear during the film’s run time, and they almost always pop up from a distance for a moment.
“Rammbock” has almost the exact same concept, and it’s a pretty intense zombie film. The whole cul de sac seems to be a setting of convenience, as the whole movie is set in motel rooms and within the confines of a cul de sac. There’s just not even a slight attempt to indicate chaos on the outside of the residence. How about injecting some siren noises in the background, or random shots and screams in to cut through the silence? You couldn’t film one or two scenes within the cul de sac of zombies feasting on a human? “By Day’s End” is held back by so many flaws and narrative pitfalls that its barely eighty minute run time is amounts to tedium, monotony, and pointless melodrama you can skip in favor of better cinematic efforts.
Now Available on VOD and DVD from Breaking Glass Pictures.