The Day (2011)
The Day is set ten years after some unspecified catastrophe has wiped out civilisation. We never get to discover the nature of the apocalypse, we don't need to: the film isn't about that, it's about the survivors.
Rick (Dominic Monaghan) leads a small group of survivors looking for food, supplies and somewhere safe to stay. They're constantly worried about being found by an initially unspecified "them". Finding a deserted house they decide to shelter from the rain.
The group is discovered by "them" and we discover who "they are". Not mutants or zombies or monsters, just people. But people who have taken different decision on how to survive. The rest of the film is a multi phase encounter between the group and the tribe during which a lot of people on both sides get killed.
What makes this film different to most post-apocalyptic fare is that the tribes aren't devolved or animalistic in any way. They're intelligent people who love their kids. They've just taken a decision about what they need to do to survive, and that decision means defining anyone who isn't one of them as less than human. Is it that big a step from what humanity has been doing throughout history: defining outsiders as heretics, slaves or cheap labour?
That's the main theme of the film: what would you do to survive? How far would you go? How far is too far? Does the answer change when the survival of the whole human race is at stake?
The other theme is revenge. As one of the characters says: "What's more human than revenge?"
This isn't a film about an apocalypse, it's a film about the dark side of humanity. Moral lines are blurred and the atmosphere is unrelentingly depressing. This is reflected in the way the film is shot in near-monochrome greys. There are few clear blacks and whites.
And the final scene is perfect.
The Day is an unusual, intelligent and classy post-apocalyptic movie. It might make you despair for humanity and wonder if the race is worth saving.
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