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Amateur Focus II: Our Days Are Numbered

September 30, 2009

Emergency Alert System scrolls across a red banner in the center of the screen.  Static and fuzz give way to a channel 10 news reporter describing the chaos around him, “the dead are walking.”  Suddenly he is shoved aside; a United States Army soldier speaks into the camera, “The President of the United States has declared martial law; you need to get in your houses…”  Machine gun fire erupts nearby.

Coven De La Cruz was “a little nervous” about writing, directing, and producing his first film.  But armed with a strong vision, a tight crew, and a bag full of good advice, Coven set about making his slick zombie short.  Clean, crisp, and tightly constructed, the opening segment of Our Days Are Numbered presents a young filmmaker in control of his craft.

And showcasing his craft is clearly what writer/director/SFX artist De La Cruz has intended for his first effort.  A brief title sequence, including a clever animated credit for Coven’s Condemned Productions, is followed by interesting shots of blood covered walls.  The glistening stains appear freshly made, setting the stage nicely for what is to follow.

Yet another entry into the found footage category, we first meet Andy, Casey and Ken through the lens of a security camera as their pick-up truck enters the frame.  Parking their smoking truck just before an ominously abandoned hearse, Ken begins recording the last days of this apocalypse.  “Basically, we’re in the middle of a big, fucking shit storm,” Andy says.  He then explains the last 5 weeks goings on and how they managed to survive.  Then tells the camera, “We’re thinking about moving to another town, or some shit…the zombies aren’t like they are in the movies; they’re real fast.” This segment, though, seems rushed and clunky and nearly derails the momentum.

But this one misstep is only a bridge to the final destination; Our Days Our Numbered is really a teaser introducing the many talents of Mr. De La Cruz.  Casey thinks there may be survivors hiding in the hearse.  What is clearly a cheap scare tactic is in the end an effective transition into the films climactic conclusion.  Zombies, zombies, and more zombies race toward our heroes; a zombie clown takes a screwdriver in the forehead and another takes a bullet engraved with a special message (fuck you).  But amidst the chaos, Casey is bitten; thus providing the film’s emotional hook.

It is all fun and playfully presented.  The music, by Warthrone, adds a sense of frantic dread to the goings on, but it is the inventive use of film magic that ultimately propels Our Days Our Numbered.  Coven De La Cruz has a vision, but he also has the artistry to make more from less.  And as the end credits roll and Warthrone pounds out their vocals, De La Cruz treats us to more delicious zombie feasting.

The final spoken line of the film, “I love you,” is a nice touch, a special message to his audience.  And if Coven is able to parlay this effort and deliver to genre fans the gore, the make-up, and the carnage in his next film, The Days Before, that he displayed in this film, then soon he will be hearing the same words from a large core of screaming fans.  [De La Cruz is currently shooting The Days Before, a prequal to Our Days Are Numbered, in full HD somewhere in VA]

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 2, 2010 10:30 am

    Great review, Drew!! Sounds like this director has a great future.

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