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New Release Review - THE DAY SHALL COME

the day shall come review
The FBI manipulates a self-styled prophet into becoming a terrorist.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Chris Morris

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Denis O'Hare, Kayvan Novak, Jim Gaffigan, Danielle Brooks

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When it comes to satire, punching down is generally frowned upon, as there's rarely much humour to be mined from mocking the powerless. Yet at the same time, satirists should be wary of punching too far up, as evidenced by how unfunny late night talk show hosts have become with jokes about Donald Trump repeated ad nauseum night after night. The best satirists punch themselves and their immediate peers. Chris Morris's late '90s British TV show Brass Eye represented satire at its most cutting, mocking middle class morality with episodes that ripped the piss out of British society's tabloid fuelled moral panics around such issues as drugs and paedophilia, the latter causing politicians to decry Morris in the Houses of Parliament.


the day shall come review

By comparison, The Day Shall Come, Morris's first crack at directing an American feature film, is about as cutting as an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Here, Morris makes the dual mistakes of both punching too far down and punching too far up.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - The Last Tree ]

The punching down is directed towards Moses Al Shabaz (MarchΓ‘nt Davis), an imbecilic preacher/guru who leads a tiny and not so self-sufficient commune in suburban Miami. The philosophy of his 'church' is a hodge-podge of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and could be described as Black Militancy without the militancy. Moses and his small flock - including his long-suffering wife Venus (Danielle Brooks), the only intelligent person in the movie - are about as much of a threat to society as a litter of Labrador puppies. But with their unorthodox beliefs, they attract the attention of the FBI in the form of operative Kendra Glack (Anna Kendrick), who coming off the back of a failed operation, is desperate to net herself a terrorist cell, even if she has to create it herself.


the day shall come review

This is where Morris punches too far up. We all know America's various national security agencies have a long tradition of creating terrorists where none previously existed, but how can you turn such a serious issue into comedy gold? Morris's best attempt is to portray the FBI not as the terrifyingly efficient tool of American imperialism we know them to be, but as a bunch of incompetent buffoons. This does indeed generate some cheap laughs (a debate over whether co-opting Islam qualifies African-Americans as brown rather black, thus creating less problematic optics, is a highlight), but it completely dulls the edge of the point Morris is attempting to make about the Feds.

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Moses and his flock are equally dumb, and some of the jokes regarding their lack of intelligence brush a little too close to racist stereotypes. It's a shame, as the relatively unknown Davis delivers a very endearing performance. Had his character been treated with a bit more dignity the movie might have generated the level of anger this story really needs to.


the day shall come review

The Day Shall Come opens with the tagline "Based on a hundred true stories," but by the time its 90 minutes of sub-HBO sitcom antics are up, any political points it intended to make have been largely lost amid a wave of forgettable one-liners. I don't think anyone is going to come away from The Day Shall Come with a newfound fear of the surveillance state, and no politicians will be calling out Morris this time.

The Day Shall Come is in UK/ROI cinemas October 11th.




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