Film Review: BY DAYS END (2020)

BY DAYS END ** USA 2020 Dir: Michael Souder. 74 mins

Troubled couple Carly (Lyndsey Lantz) and Rina (Andrea Nelson) move into a run down motel. Carly has dropped out of med school to pursue a career as a videographer with Rina applying to be an attorney but gets pipped to the post by another. This causes Rina to crash into a deep depression they start to argue almost constantly. Because of their issues they hardly pay attention to news reports of civil unrest, riots and violent attacks. They slowly realise something is not right when the maintenance man comes down with a burning fever, seems to die yet comes back life to bite his wife. It isn’t long before the couple find themselves trapped and hunted by zombies. Along with Ex Army neighbour Wyatt (Joshua Keller Katz) they try and make a break for it but with Rina already sick and Wyatt making a school boy error things are looking pretty bleak for this group of people.

This found footage zombie movie is entirely shot from the hand held cameras Carly uses (she has a few) and has view points from the many security cameras dotted about the motel complex. In all fairness this is a pretty good attempt and concept. The acting is wooden to start with and it is littered with all the usual zombie movie mistakes eg: checking on a body once shot when you know it’s not dead etc, but once it gets going you warm up to all the cast. Lantz and Nelson have a great chemistry and have some really quite sweet moments together. The zombies are few and far between with only one or two zombies shown at a time. Their make up is basic but okay unfortunately the lighting is quite dingy so it’s hard to make them out at times, but as the movie progresses and more people turn it does improve. The gun sounds are a lot like pop guns but the other weapons such as knives and axes have some good if brief practical effects behind them. The whole thing feels a bit disjointed at the start but it does at least try to build up some good character arcs. People you care enough about before the shit hits the fan. It lacks suspense and urgency at times and it took me a moment to figure out why. As is often the case with found footage there is no score at all. With this movie there is not even a small incidental piece throughout which would have gone a long way to building up more of an atmosphere.

Review by Sarah Budd

 

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