Writer/director Jake Kennedy's 2007 shot-on-video opus DAYS OF DARKNESS has popped up in several conversations since 365 Days of the Dead began; I've heard, "Hey, check that one out, it's not your typical zombie flick," as often as I've gotten, "Dude, don't waste your time, it sucks!" Since divisive movies intrigue me, I decided to see for myself, and although the movie is definitely a mixed bag, it is certainly not your typical zombie flick.
It starts out as one, as a passing comet covers the earth in a toxic dust that turns people into zombies, forcing survivors to seek shelter at an abandoned microwave station. Kennedy seems none too interested in doing something different with the living dead--at least not at first--but manages to establish a good build-up with just enough characterization and well-timed action. Yet just when you think the film will remain a mere Romero pastiche, it starts to veer into strange new directions.
I won't go into too much detail, since these variations are what makes DAYS OF DARKNESS worth checking out, but I will say I can't think of very many movies that feature zombified genitalia. (There's even a quite memorable "crotch exam" sequence.) The plot twists get steadily loopier, leading to one helluva "Eureka!" moment as the main character figures out just what's going on, but I gotta give props to Kennedy for audacity, even if his execution leaves something to be desired.
Kennedy tries to assemble a more outre roster of characters--such as the former porn star who uses her extensive anal experience to explain why she can't kill zombies--but too often they come off as gimmicky and unintentionally humorous (I still don't know if this was supposed to be a comedy or not), and they still resort to the same pointless bickering that can be found in any post-apocalypse zombie film. (Though there are quite a few novel character types, I really could've done without the queer-bashing fanatical preacher.)
DAYS OF DARKNESS is in many ways like a lot of micro-budget films--boasting lame CGI effects that instill little confidence in the audience--but it's what it does differently that gives it that edge (Kennedy even throws in a happy ending--awww.) Not to be confused with great cinema, it at least offers something different than the usual Romero-esque gut-munching.