Following the sub-genre’s resurgence in popularity in the late 1990s, often thought to have resulted from the success the Resident Evil video game franchise, zombie movies have become one of the most universal varieties of horror films. Although the output of zombie films has subsided some in recent years, Day Zero proves there are still new areas for the infected hordes to explore. Perhaps fittingly on the heels of a global pandemic and universal concerns about deadly contagions, Day Zero marks the first zombie film I have watched from the Philippines.
Although it contains all the elements expected of a zombie survival horror film, Day Zero also embraces the action elements found in the recent zombie films directed and produced by Zach Snyder for Netflix. This is reinforced by the addition of retired mixed martial artist and former UFC fighter Brandon Vera to the cast. Vera stars as Emon, a former elite soldier who has spent eight years incarcerated in prison. When a zombie outbreak occurs, the prisoners are set free to escape and survive, and Emon rushes to rescue his estranged wife Sheryl (Mary Jean Lastimosa) and daughter Jane (Freya Fury Montierro) from the mass of flesh-eating monsters.
As with many successful zombie films from the past, the plot for Day Zero is minimal, instead simply focusing on the survival of a group of characters and the relationships between them. Emon is joined by fellow ex-convict Timoy (Pepe Herrera), who remains loyal to his friend after their time spent incarcerated together. Emon similarly has a loyalty to his family and a willingness to do everything within his power to protect them. Not only does the group of survivors need to be concerned with the undead, but also the threat of untrustworthy living people.
Where Day Zero thrives is in the sequences of action horror. The physicality of Vera alone lends itself to some well-choreographed fight scenes, utilizing a variety of weapons in addition to the star’s massive frame. There might not be much originality or subtlety in the film’s action, but that doesn’t prevent it from being highly enjoyable. If only the characters were better developed and the plot slightly more suspenseful, Day Zero may have matched some of the better zombie films of the past several decades. As it stands, this is an enjoyable genre film that is easy to watch despite being just as easy to forget.
The Blu-ray release for Day Zero doesn’t have any special features to speak of. However, the Filipino film is well shot and looks great in high definition. This may be reason enough for the upgrade.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 0/10