DIFF Movie Review: ‘Daylight’s End’

Review by Lauryn Angel

Daylight’s End is an action film filmed entirely in Texas, mostly in Dallas, so the atmosphere at the DIFF screening was quite convivial and as the credits rolled, there was a lot of applause and shouting. The audience participation continued throughout the screening, as familiar images – particularly the Dallas skyline – appeared on screen. All of this is to say that if you live in Dallas and you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic action/horror films, you’ll probably get a kick out of this movie.

This latest film from director William Kaufman and writer Chad Law is owes a great debt to both The Road Warrior and I Am Legend, as the film features elements of both stories. The protagonist, Rourke (Johnny Strong), is a wanderer who stumbles upon a gunfight between a group of marauders and a group of survivors in a Dallas police car. After the marauders take out all of the survivors except Sam (Chelsea Edmondson), Rourke steps in and wipes them out. He only follows Sam back to the Dallas Police Station, where her group is holed up, to collect on her promise of food, gasoline, and ammunition. Once he arrives, however, he’s quickly enlisted to help the group defeat the undead scourge that plagues them.

It’s never quite clear whether the creatures the group fights are vampires or zombies. In the Q&A after the screening, Chad Law clarified, “They’re zompires. We made our own thing.” The creatures have the mindlessness of fast zombies, but they can’t tolerate the sunlight, in which they quickly decompose. There is, however, an Alpha – a zompire that has more cognizance than the rest, and is able to direct the others and even set traps. And the Alpha seems to target Rourke particularly.

Johnny Strong gives a solid performance as Rourke, but the real draw for me was Lance Henrikson, who anchors this film with his role as the patriarch of the group of survivors, Frank. Frank is skeptical of Rourke, and a good deal of the tension of the movie is due to this distrust, and the fact that Rourke doesn’t really care whether Frank trusts him or not – Rourke is going to do what he thinks is best regardless.

While the movie is a fun diversion, the storyline isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. It’s pretty clear from the beginning how the movie is going to end, and while there are twists here and there, there are ultimately no big surprises. (There are, however, some big explosions.) Daylight’s End is a solid low-budget action film that is a fun diversion.

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