Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daylight (2010)

Fear 0/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 0/5

In the history of this blog, I don't think I've ever read a synopsis quite like this. One which makes me exclaim (after watching the actual film) 'This totally does not deliver on what it promises.'

'A harrowing psychological thriller from a widely acclaimed filmmaker, Daylight pits a couple lost in America against a conniving gang of kidnappers, in David Barker's rigorous and personal re-imagining of the genre film. Despite its familiar genre elements, Daylight is different - a powerful, shocking piece of vigorous cinema, which fuses eroticism and tenderness with the harrowing weight of pregnancy and kidnapping. On their way to a wedding, Danny and Irene pick up a hitchhiker - throwing the film in the direction of the conventional rural kidnapper thriller. But with the skill of director David Barker and his miraculous cast and crew, Daylight emerges as much, much more than just another exploitation picture. Kidnappers Renny, Leo, and Murphy enact a bizarre and terrifying ritual of politeness, endowing such scenes as the passing of a bread knife at a kitchen table with a threat of ferocious violence - but also trust...'

Daylight is anything but what the synopsis would have you believe. It's an exercise in futility, an ultimately pointless affair not worthy of your time or attention. 

Our film centers around a young European couple who are visiting the good ol' U-S-of-A, driving through the American countryside while on their way out to a family wedding. We are treated to some vague inner monologue from the pregnant wife as she asks herself if she's married the wrong man. Talking to her husband aloud, she reassures him that he has nothing to worry about when they get to the festivities and he has to have a talk with her father. Why he's nervous is never fully explained.

So this couple (a presumably well-to-do one based on their Aston Martin rental), decides to stop and pick up a complete stranger walking along the roadside. The couple, and let's assume they've never driven through the American countryside before, decides to play the good Samaritan to a scruffy man wearing a mechanic's shirt. Logic gap aside, you can guess what happens next.

The stranger takes them by knife point out to a secluded house where there are two other men waiting. Our lead kidnapper immediately wants to kill the husband but his buddy or brother (relationships between the men are never fully explained) convinces him to spare his life as maybe he has some money. The husband responds that he does and that if one of them drives him out to their original destination, that by weekend's end, they'll have a sizable amount of money in their bank account. So after a little back and forth between the three men, they agree to let the man (who convinced the sparing of the husband's life) drive them out to meet up with the family.

After the man takes the husband out to meet up with members of his family, they hole themselves up in a nearby motel until one of the relatives shows up with the money. The remainder of our film involves the other two men and a lot of trite, superficial and exhausting dialogue between them and the wife. And nothing actually happens. No genuine tension is built. There is a little bit of feigned sexual tension but nothing ever feels on the verge of erupting. The wife, never really seems to feel all that scared or frightened and perpetually has an expressionless look. I don't know if it was the acting or the way the character was written. But it adds no depth or weight to the character and her situation whatsoever. And to really 'sell' a film like this, you have to empathize and fear for the life that's growing inside. At no point in the film did I care about any of the characters and the wife's dense and emotionless state certainly didn't help things.

So anyways, she uses mechanic guy's bizarre fascination with her pregnancy against him and in the only moment of real horror kills him. And here is where the film completely falls apart with one of the worst endings I've ever seen: she escapes the home despite the other brother (or friend) still being alive and he does nothing to stop her. No resolution is given as to what exactly happened to her husband who was tied up in the motel. And we're left with a final scene of her giving birth. That's it.

This film was absolutely exhaustive and not in a good way. It was completely devoid of any emotion, suspense, or true moments of horror. Any film that has to deal with kidnapping or home invasion must have those elements. Sadly, this film does not and it feels completely and utterly pointless.

Cortez the Killer

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