Sunday, July 09, 2023

Day Zero: Zombies in the Philippines

There are plenty of guns, which is good, but there are also lots of people, which is bad. Prison is a difficult place to be when the zombie apocalypse breaks out—perhaps even trickier than Rick Grimes’ hospital bed in The Walking Dead. At least the warden declares every man for himself—and Emon is a lot of man, but he also has trouble walking away from people in trouble. Of course, everyone is in trouble in Joey De Guzman’s Day Zero, which releases Tuesday on DVD.

Emon was supposed to be paroled, so he could patch things up with his wife Sheryl and daughter Jane, but than he had to save his scrounger buddy Timoy from a shanking. Fatefully, the prison is overrun with zombies shortly thereafter. Emon will fight his way out, to rescue Sheryl and Jane, who do indeed need rescuing, from their zombie-infested apartment building. He gets a little bit of help from Timoy, but mainly he must rely on his training from his stint with U.S. Special Forces.

Seriously, that is the gist of it all.
Day Zero is very much a conventional zombie movie. For the first forty minutes or so, it is the standard run, shoot, and bite business. However, it culminates in a massive climactic battle, in which the well-armed Emon starts capping zombies like he is Chris Hemsworth in the Extraction movies. Emon’s last stand even rivals the awesome sharp-shooting display that closed Shinsuke Sato’s I am a Hero. If you have not seen that Japanese zombie movie, then you should absolutely check out Day Zero.

Former professional kickboxer Brandon Vera has immediate action cred and he does a nice job conveying Emon’s desperately protective fatherly instincts. It is easy to see him developing an appeal like that of the Rock and John Cena (it is not like either of them are great thesps, they just perfected their likable screen personas).

Pepe Herrera supplies some comic relief as the nervous Timoy, but in general, characterization is not
Day Zero’s strongest suit. However, it excels at killing zombies. The sheer volume of dead zombies that pile up is quite impressive.

It makes sense that there are zombies in the Philippines. They must have been who was voting for Duterte (the former prez), despite his passively compliant policy stance towards China, the imperialist bully of the South China Sea. It seems like every country has taken its shot at the zombie movie.
Day Zero isn’t even the best of the Philippines (that is probably still Remington and the Zombadings), but the carnage and mayhem are champion-level. Recommended for zombie fans, Day Zero releases this Tuesday (7/11) on DVD and BluRay.