Posted June 4, 2012 by David Watson in Films
 
 

The Harsh Light Of Day


Remember how we used to worry about the mythical European Union Butter Mountain?

Remember how we used to worry about the
mythical European Union Butter Mountain?

It was always on the news before the meltdown of the global economy
pushed simple, unthinking waste to the back of our minds. It’s still out there, festering
somewhere on the Continent, probably near the Alps, its gentle slopes lapped by
the Milk Lake at its base. And
those mindless Brussels Eurocrats still won’t let us slide down it. Well, what would you do with a Butter Mountain?

Just next
to the Butter Mountain is a Babel-esque Tower of bad films; a higgledy piggledy
monument to the tacky, the puerile, the hackneyed, the ill-conceived, the badly
executed, the amateurish. The just
plain bad. Films that rarely see,
ahem, the harsh light of day. They
hardly ever see the inside of a cinema, never get their moment in the Sun,
consigned to DTV-Hell, their fate is the bargain bins and maybe, if they’re
lucky, turning up late at night on an obscure cable channel before inevitably
finding their way to the Leaning Tower of Z-movies and a grandstand view of the
Milk Lake’s submarine races.

Some of
these films will be expensive, handsomely shot and star people you kinda, sorta
recognise. “That girl, the one
getting her tits out, wasn’t she in Hollyoaks?”
or “I’m sure I recognise that guy’s voice from Modern Warfare 3?”
Others will look like a wedding video, shot for two bob and some Embassy
coupons down a coal mine on a kid’s Fisher Price camera and starring Don from
down the pub. Some will have ideas
to burn. Others should just be
burned. Billy Murray and Craig
Fairbrass
make a lot of them.

But if
you’re a low-budget filmmaker who’s poured their heart and soul into your film,
how do you escape the Tower? How
do you find that elusive audience?
In the case of the makers of micro-budget horror movie The Harsh Light Of Day you just keep
sending DVDs to critics in the hope that eventually they’ll watch them and
maybe give you a decent review. If
you’re a critic, you’ll probably watch it if for no other reason than, by the
time you receive the 3rd copy of the film in the post, it’s become
abundantly clear that they know where you
live!

When
occult author Daniel (Dan Richardson)
and his wife are brutally attacked in their home by masked thugs, Daniel is left
paralysed and forced to witness his wife’s murder. Confined to a wheelchair, his life in ruins, Daniel becomes
a drunken recluse, plagued by guilt and impotent rage, his only connection with
the outside world his nurse Fiona (Sophie
Linfield
). One night, he’s
visited by the improbably named stranger Infurnari (Giles Anderson)
who’s much more than just a posh boy in a pullover. He’s a vampire and offers Daniel a chance at revenge. Casting aside his wheelchair, Daniel
arises and walks the night but finds vengeance may just cost him his soul.

You’ll
want to like The Harsh Light Of Day. You probably won’t though. It’d be great to say that it takes a
tiny budget and does wonders with it, that the cinematography pops, that the
script zings, that the cast are great and that Milburn is a young, gifted
artist. Unfortunately, that’d be a
pack of lies.

The
script is woefully bad, cobbling together fan-boy cribs from every vampire and
horror movie writer/director Milburn
has liked in the last 10 years, not to mention the wholesale purloining of the
end of 30 Days Of Night. The film lacks pace, rhythm. It’s violent but not inventively so;
there’s no gore to speak of despite the anti-heroes being vampires and the
villains being snuff filmmakers.
The film is coy. And what’s
the point of a coy film about vampires killing snuff filmmakers? This film needs gore, demands gore, has
to have gore. Crunching bones,
ripping flesh, arterial sprays, ejaculating wounds, walls running red. This film needs blood but its anemic,
lacks bite. There’s also a
pointless, unerotic soft-core sex scene which leaves the uncomfortable
impression that no-one involved in the production has either (a) had sex or (b)
has ever seen any.

With the
exceptions of Linfield and Anderson (who, shudder at the thought, seems to be
channeling a sexually aggressive posh Vernon Kaye) the performances are
terrible, the majority of the actors their only qualification their ability to
reflect light. The film is
technically amateurish; it looks and feels like a bunch of posh boys making a
film in their dad’s weekend house.
This is a film made by a young, inexperienced, novice director and it
shows.

And yet…

You’ll
still want to like this film. As
technically inept as it is, as immature as its story may be, there’s real
ambition here. A desire to get out
there and just make as good a film as possible and then move on to the next
one. Given a chance, there’s a
cult horror audience out there for this kind of Z-grade British horror flick
which in the last few years has practically become a genre unto itself. If sh*t like Stag Night Of The Dead or
Psychosis
can find an audience then there’s no reason why The Harsh Light Of Day shouldn’t. But next time guys, give the audience
something a bit less po-faced and a bit more fun.


David Watson

 
David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com