Review by Sarah Williams
By Day's End brings its pandemic horror at the most incidental of times. As the world is in a socio-political nightmare due to a raging bout of disease, a zombie apocalypse brought by disease rages on in this new VOD release. It's just as exhausting as real life, but still very much within the tropes of the typical zombie movie.
Carly (Lindsay Lantz) and Rina (Andrea Nelson) are a lesbian couple on the verge of a breakup. Carly drops out of med school, and Rina loses her job as an attorney almost simultaneously, and the strain of their changing lives breaks down their relationship. A pandemic disease ravages their city, and the people around them are turned into flesh eating monsters. Suddenly their personal tensions are the least of their problems, and they band together to fight for their lives.
For found footage, it’s often tricky to justify the use of the medium. Here, that at least is well introduced, with Carly saving up to purchase a new camera to pursue a career in videography. Her career hopes make filming their experience as practice reasonable, so at least it is a plot device instead of purely a gimmick.
It’s a different kind of breakup film, one that alleviates the breakup. The couple pledges to repair their relationship even as they know it’s falling apart, but not even they can fully believe in their own words.
Lindsey Lantz and Andrea Nelson give good performances in this end of the world film, but ultimately the film’s small budget is its downfall. It often looks cheap outside some clever lighting choices, and the sound is a dead giveaway of its small indie status. The movie attempts to hide the poor quality of the shots by framing it as found footage and bathing everything in lime green, but it is so poorly framed anyway that this hardly remedies the problem. It’s hard to watch a film that feels so unprofessional, and while budget should be thought of when critiquing, it just feels like lazy, messy filmmaking.
It also is not quite the lesbian horror film we’ve all been waiting for, with a relationship that feels so inauthentically written it’s hard to believe in the love at the core of the film. Michael Souder and Justin Calen-Chenn write from an inauthentic place and it shows. The dead lesbian trope is one that lies everywhere, not just the horror genre, where the gay women are always first to die. This is not broken, nor is any work done to make the trope subversive. The way it is followed is a particularly egregious breach of trust with the audience, but we won’t spoil the precise circumstances.
The search for a good lesbian zombie movie must continue. The idea is good here, with bonding over the shared traumatic experience of a zombie apocalypse and falling in love again, but it’s so poorly executed and written it’s hardly likable. It sets itself up to be something different, yet is a painfully generic and grating iteration of “lesbian couple brutally attacked by monsters”. As a lesbian horror lover, it’s disappointing to see us represented like this again and again.
By Day's End is now available on VOD.