Daylight’s End, 2016.
Directed by William Kaufman.
Starring Johnny Strong, Lance Henriksen, Louis Mandylor and Chelsea Edmundson.
Years after a mysterious plague has devastated the planet and turned most of humanity into blood-hungry creatures, a rogue drifter on a vengeful hunt stumbles across a band of survivors in an abandoned police station and reluctantly agrees to try to help them defend themselves and escape to the sanctuary they so desperately need.
Johnny Strong (Fast and the Furious, Black Hawk Down) plays Thomas Rourke, a loner on the move in a post apocalyptic world filled with zombies after an outbreak. I was a little worried when the opening credits showed snippets of news reports detailing how the zombie apocalypse had escalated, much like another famous zombie movie, World War Z, but my worries were for nought. This movie turned out to be a high action, quick moving film that could be best described as Mad Max meets 28 Days Later meets Assault on Precinct 13.
The opening shot of Rourke’s armored car blasting down a desolate road screamed of Mad Max to me and the connection only got stronger when I realized that the main character had lost his pregnant wife and was a loner, much like Mel Gibson’s Max, who lost his wife and child. Our anti-hero explores a gas station and finds something in a freezer, which he pulls outside and shoots open, letting the zombie out into the sunlight where it cooks and fries and dies. Vampire zombies? I was intrigued. Rourke gets back in his car and heads into the city center and gets out to explore the area. He witnesses people in a cop car get out to check on a woman in the road cradling what looks like a baby. They are suddenly attacked by a group of heavily armored and weaponized marauders, who kill everybody but the female (played by Chelsea Edmundson).
Rourke comes in and saves the day by killing all the bad guys off. Mind you, these were not zombies, but other humans who were basically raping and pillaging and killing. This was something only mentioned here in the start of the movie and then as a plot device, it falls to the wayside, but it made for a good introduction to Rourke’s knife and gun skills. Sam (Edmundson) offers to take Rourke to her hideaway where he can get food and water and ammo and either go on his way or stay and help her group. He decides to take her up on her offer and they drive into the heart of Dallas where they narrowly make it into the compound at night after running from the vampire zombies trying to catch them. You see, vampire zombies only come out at night and apparently they run really, really fast like the zombies from 28 Days Later.
Once inside the compound, which turns out to be an abandoned police station, Rourke meets Frank Hill, played by Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Terminator). Hill is the leader of a large group of people holed up in the precinct. They have protections, including a sliding metal door entrance, which Sam and Rourke come through right before he sees a larger alpha zombie that doesn’t go down when he gets shot. This alpha zombie has been organizing the zombies and going after the people in the precinct. There is tension right away as Rourke and Hill get in a pissing match over the best way to deal with the zombies and get his people to safety. There is a cargo plane that could take them all to safety, but they need to find vehicles to drive everybody there. Rourke has a different plan. He wants to go into the hotel where they know the zombies are sleeping and kill the alpha male. Rourke takes a small group of men with him while Hill gets his people to look for vehicles. Rourke’s attack on the alpha zombie is not successful and he comes running back to the precinct at night with a vampire zombie horde on his tail. What follows is an onslaught by the zombies on the police station, with Hill, Rourke and all his people defending themselves to the death.
Strong is solid in the leading role and carries the film. While I thought more could have been done with the whole vampire zombie aspect and some character deaths had less impact due to their not being enough time to develop backstories, it was still a thrilling, high action film with realistic gun battles and tactics and very high-end production values for a low-budget film. The music was spot on and served to heighten the tension. I discovered that all the music was produced and performed by Johnny Strong and that the dream sequences were also directed and filmed by him. This movie was obviously a labor of love for both Strong and filmmaker William Kaufman (The Hit List, Sinners and Saints) and will be an enjoyable action apocalypse flick for people looking for something slightly different in their post-apocalyptic zombie movie.
Daylight’s End is currently in a limited theatrical release in the U.S. and is also available on VOD.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Tai Freligh – Staff Writer. Follow me on Twitter