I saw the world premiere of Daylight's End at the Dallas International Film Festival this past Friday night.
This is a horror action thriller, sort of a mix of the best elements of influences from other fun to watch films such as Aliens, 28 Days Later and World War Z. It's a fun and exciting romp through the zombie/vampire genre.
The script is well written and performances are superb. While it plays second to the well made action scenes, the character development in the movie is really strong in the short time given to it. This is really an ensemble cast that plays well off of each other, it's obvious every actor, even with the smallest role knows exactly who his or her character is. Lance Henriksen is absolutely believable as Frank, the ex-cop leader of this group of survivors, and Louis Mandylor puts in one of the best performances of his career as Frank's son Ethan. Standouts in smaller roles: Dugan (Chris Kerson) is the guy you love to hate, Annabelle (Farah White) is crazy (can't describe it... you just have to see it), Drew (Gary Cairns) is a slacker with a heart (and a "Just Do Me" t-shirt which was a nice touch), and Burton (Mark Hanson) is a sort of survivalist that delivered some great one liners. As I said, a great ensemble cast.
Also a word about Johnny Strong's performance in the lead role as Rourke, the hardened stranger that is new to the group. Strong is good enough that it makes one wonder why he hasn't been given the opportunity to play more lead roles in larger budget action oriented films, especially in a decade or more of Hollywood films that have been bereft of such talent. Combine that with Strong's excellent score which creates a vibe that feels very influenced by John Carpenter at his best, and I'm wondering where has Johnny Strong been for the last several years?
I can't complete this review without mentioning the director of the film, William Kaufman. Kaufman has developed a reputation as a top notch action director, and this film is the culmination of all his experience and talent in that area - this is his best effort to date, no question. Kaufman's cinematic sensibility in this film is a purposeful recreation of how films looked and felt in the early 1980's, except of course with modern technology - and it works oh so well to serve this genre. Also, director Kaufman obviously had his hands full with a large ensemble cast of very talented actors, any of whom could have caused problems for the audience's belief in the story if they turned in weak or out-of-sync performances compared to the rest of the cast. So in addition to excellent action sequences, Kaufman navigated these difficult waters with the ease of a veteran director capable of inspiring his actors to come together and deliver across the board, from the lead to the smallest roles - and it really shows on screen.
As I mentioned, from a creative standpoint this film was excellent on every level including direction, score, cast performances (and casting), sound design, editing and script. Plus it scared the crap out of me several times, which doesn't happen to me in movies, ever. So for me this film achieved exactly what it set out to do. This is one of the best movies I have seen so far this year - check it out, you won't be disappointed.
As for the previous 2 negative reviews here on IMDb, I really have to say these sound like they were written by someone who personally has a problem with someone associated with the film because they absolutely don't reflect the quality of the actual movie. This kind of trashing of the film by someone associated with the filmmakers is also strange to me because I could not help but notice on Friday night at the screening how many cast and crew members were there, and they appeared to be a very closely knit group that is excited to present this latest excellent offering to moviegoers.