Do you know Johnny Strong? If not you should. Johnny is a ripped-up, tattooed badass who, along with being an actor, is also a martial artist and founder of the rock band Operator. The guy even makes his own knives. Go to his website and maybe he can make you some too. After small parts in Fast and the Furious and Black Hawk Down, Strong showed up on action movie lover’s radars with his lead role in Sinners and Saints, a cops and gangsters cult hit which left me eager for his next role. His latest role is the lead in Daylight’s End, a post-apocalyptic action-horror hybrid from director William Kaufman. Think I am Legend with a much smaller budget but a much tougher protagonist.
A virus has spread worldwide, turning 99 percent of the population into vampire-like creatures who roam in fast-moving swarms every night looking to gnaw on people. Rourke is a loner making his way through this world when he meets and saves the life of a female survivor (Sam). She then talks him into escorting her back to her group with the promise of food and ammo. I know what you’re thinking: none of this sounds very original. You would be correct in having that thought. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen in any Mad Max or Walking Dead knockoff before it. The difference here is the quality of the cast and the production values.
Strong is supported by a good turn from Chelsea Edmundson as Sam, and none other than Lance Freakin’ Henriksen as the leader of the survivors, turning in his best role in a decade. If Henriksen doesn’t get your horror lovin’ heart pitter-pattering, I can’t help you. Strong brings a real physicality to his role that makes him a believable and effective man-of-few-words hero. The action is shot and executed well and the supporting performances are good across the board.
This movie is not high art. It checks the box for every action horror cliche you can think of, and falls into predictable traps as a result. Despite those traps, good direction by Kaufman and good performances elevate the material above some of it’s VOD brethren.
I will end simply with this: if post-apocalyptic action-horror is your thing, you will have a good time with Daylight’s End.