Day of Reckoning

Fifteen years ago all hell broke loose, literally. During an eclipse hideous creatures with very sharp claws and teeth came roaring up out of various fissures in the earth and proceeded to eat whatever they could catch for 24 hours. Then they just... went away. Millions died, while the survivors, calling the incident the Day of Reckoning, began the long, slow process of rebuilding.

Sensibly, part of the rebuilding involved constructing things called Gates over the fissures in hopes of warding off -- or at least slowing down -- another attack. Manned by Homeland Security, the gates are like large industrial complexes designed for defense and as an early warning system. Rumors persist that there will be another such exodus sooner or later, though, despite the Gates. Can you imagine the apocalypse cults that must have sprung up?

Anyway, 15 years ago David (Jackson Hurst) was away from his wife Laura (Heather McComb), a science teacher, when disaster struck, leaving her to look after herself and their infant son Tyler. Now Tyler is sixteen and being played by Jay Jay Warren, but his parents' marriage was less fortunate. Lo and behold, the very weekend that Tyler is supposed to stay at his dad's is the very weekend another eclipse is predicted, and the world is watching anxiously for signs of danger.

And of course there's plenty of danger so we can have a movie. There are public shelters, but those work out about as well as you might expect since they're not large enough for everyone who wants to get in. Luckily, David has a Crazy Uncle Ted (Raymond J. Barry, The Purge: Election Year). Ted was paranoid enough to make his own shelter in the desert for himself and his wife Stella (Barbara Crampton) and kindly tells his nephew David that there's room for him and his family if he can get out there in time. All right, Ted's actually pretty sarcastic about most things but it was still a thoughtful invitation. It just isn't as easy to get there as anyone expects.

It's a pretty standard sort of creature feature, about as accurate as most monster movies. There's serious confusion as to whether the eclipse is lunar or solar, which is a pretty significant difference. Also, the writers don't seem to know how fire alarms and sprinkler systems work. The writers also didn't give Uncle Ted enough screen time, since he was far and away the best part of the movie, but at least he managed to steal all the scenes he was in.

The characters are generally likable, though, and surprisingly sensible aside from a few lapses. One insists on bringing knives to a gunfight, for instance. I suppose when you're surrounded by creatures who might be literal demons, you don't need dumb decisions to get you into trouble. The script makes no attempt to offer any explanations for the attacks, which is realistic but also frustrating at times. It would have been nice to have more of a plot then how our heroes get from point A to point B. But while there's nothing new here, it's still an entertaining popcorn film. And at least it isn't the zombies' fault this time.

The cast fleeing. The blond is Tyler's girlfriend Maddy, the one with the knife.


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