Day Zero (2022)
Director: Joey De Guzman
Cast: Brandon Vera, Pepe Herrera, Mary Jean Lastimosa, Joey Marquez, Freya Fury Montierro, Yohance Levi Buie, Ricci Rivero, Jema Galanza
When society breaks down due to a violent outbreak that turns victims into undead monsters, a former elite soldier breaks out of jail to find his family. – IMDB
Having only seen one horror short film from Philippines before and nothing else, Day Zero is my first feature film to break into Philippine cinema. Day Zero is an action horror film which spends most of the viral outbreak in the apartment building where the main character Emon’s (Brandon Vera) family resides as he tries to get to them with the help of his inmate friend, Timoy (Pepe Herrera). Focused heavily on the action element, the horror element is mostly with its zombies. Zombies have been done to death at this point and yet as another film is made, we still try to figure out the nature of these zombies which creates most of the horror elements when it first is introduced with its first attack on screen in the opening scene.
Day Zero isn’t exactly a unique zombie film. In fact, both the nature of the zombies and how they move feel very familiar to other films that have been done. However, the undead can have its own frightening element. Adding to the apartment building, it revolves a lot around neighbors that the female lead as Emon’s wife Sheryl (Mary Jean Lastimosa) know and paired with taking care and eventually losing their mute daughter Jane (Freya Fury Montierro) who summons them with a bell, its where the tension builds even if you can see where the potential dangers will occur. The narrative of the film has all the elements it needs and in execution, is pretty fast-paced as well. The drama element of the film is definitely not lacking as well when there are necessary sacrifices and human nature is one of the things that come into play in the end.
If there was something to criticize more, it would be that the acting is not quite too good here. There are some highlight moments but basically no one really the supporting cast is only there as a means to an end whether to save Jane or to push forward some danger element. Looking at the main cast, Timoy is one of the more memorable characters as the script gives him a very nice and touching trajectory especially since his loyalty is one that exists when Emon helps him out without considering his consequences in prison at the beginning of the film. Being the main focus, Emon played by Brandon Vera isn’t exactly really a great actor but much like he reminds me a lot of an Asian version of Vin Diesel appearance-wise, his background in real life as an ex-MMA fighter does come in handy to create some great action scenes with bare-fist combat against zombie which obviously is risky business in the first place.
Honestly, I don’t believe that zombie films need to be complicated in plot in the first place. Day Zero knows exactly what it wants to deliver in its action horror and while the balance is a little off and the horror eventually fades away into drama by the end, the action element is done in a fast-paced and gripping way especially when it gets to the final act and the story needs to pan between three people as danger lurks closer by the minute. While its nothing too unique in terms of zombie film, my first venture into Philippine cinema is a pretty decent one.