TAD 2022: Day Zero dir. by Joey De Guzman

It’s Zombie Night at the Toronto After Dark film festival, so be careful if Scotiabank Theatre is overrun by the undead!

The second screening this evening features the North American Premiere of the Filipino film, Day Zero. The film follows Emon (Brandon Vera, an MMA fighter turned actor) and his prison buddy, Timoy (Pepe Herrera) as they break out of prison as the zombie apocalypse hits the Philipines.

Emon is focused on one task and one task only, getting home to his wife, Sheryl (Mary Jean Lastimosa) and his deaf daughter, Jane (Freya Fury Montierro).

The apartment building where Sheryl and Jane lives becomes a microcosm of society, as it so often does in this manner of films, and serves as a backdrop to bloody encounters, betrayals, sacrifices and goodbyes. Emon fights his way through the vicious undead, which has a few differences from the average zombie we’ve encountered on screen; they aren’t shambles but runners, if things are quiet they actually seem to shut down, after a fashion, until a loud noise wakens them, and one of them features a unique trait I’ve often thought about (no spoilers).

In terms of new things to the genre or zombie table, there are no big surprises here, and the film plays out exactly as you would expect it to, without supporting characters being killed off as befits their character stereotype.

This isn’t to say it’s not a fun film, and I’m sure the After Dark crowd will appreciate it for what it is, but it definitely lacks the impact of something like the original Night of the Living Dead, Shaun of the Dead, or Train to Busan (all exemplary Zombie movies in my book). But there are some fun kills, Vera gets to flex and be an action hero for the camera, and it is always interesting to see how other countries envision the zombie apocalypse.

It screens with the short, Dissos by Steven Elford, which is an all too short computer-animated tale of a man who wakes in front of a house on a rain-soaked night and has a strange encounter. I didn’t love all the imagination, and I have a couple of questions, but I loved the idea behind this one a lot!

And if you don’t get a chance to see MexZombies tonight, you’ll miss the short in front of that one, In The Dark by Bronson Allen a creepy little tale about the sixth date sleepover that goes very wrong when it’s revealed that he can’t do anything with the lights out because of what will be waiting for him in the dark…

Tomorrow there’s a shorts program as well as a social, and more features to come! So I’ll see you After Dark!

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