ON DVD: 20th October, from IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
RUNNING TIME: 77 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
In the Egyptian desert, a man is filming someone else as they enter the tomb of Neferu, an evil pharaoh who was murdered by his brother. Something kills them, but the footage is later found. Treasure hunter Jack Wells is enlisted by shady businessman Carl to find the Codex Stone, a diamond that was put inside Neferu’s chest so he would be in perpetual torment, not alive, not dead. Jack falls in with a group of archaeologists looking for Neferu’s tomb and, with the aid of a guide, they make their way towards it, unaware of what is waiting for them when they get there….
Day Of The Mummy. The title reminds me of Dawn Of The Mummy from 1980 and made me wonder why there hasn’t been a Night Of The Living Mummy. I suppose it was only a matter of time before our favourite bandaged menace was done Found Footage style, and horror fans will probably be happy that the Mummy is no longer the province of Indiana Jones-style actioners and has returned to his horror movie roots. Sadly Day Of The Mummy is strictly average fare. It certainly isn’t terrible – though I’ve sat through Bram Stoker’s Legend Of The Mummy 2 so any other Mummy film seems like a masterpiece by comparison – and certain aspects are quite well done, but overall it gives the impression that the Found Footage sub-genre is really past its sell by date, at least in terms of horror, and needs to take a break, though I reckon that our Matt Wavish will disagree and pull out some examples of really good recent Found Footage efforts to prove me wrong! And I need to remember that I was pleasantly surprised by Earth To Echo not that long ago.
Day Of The Mummy at least does have one good idea. Rather than have the film’s action be filmed by somebody holding a camera, or be an after-the-event compilation of different kinds of footage, it’s recorded by a tiny camera in the main character Jack Wells’ glasses, which means that this film avoids the obligatory [to this type of film] absurd scenes where a person would rather film what’s going on rather than run for his or her dear life from the thing that’s killing off his or her companions. Unfortunately, Jack can also see his boss Carl in the corner of his camera, and he constantly pops up in a way that becomes annoying. In fact, about half of the action takes place with bleeding Carl in the corner of the screen watching and commenting, which really takes one out of the film. I guess it’s good that, having got Danny Glover to appear in the movie, they graciously let him be on-screen for so long, but he actually has hardly anything to do and I grew to really dislike the fact that, just when you think it’s safe and one could actually be getting ‘into’ the film, up he pops again. There’s one amusing moment when Jack is about to have sex with somebody and you think that Jack’s going to watch, but Jack soon annoyingly switches the camera off!
The opening scene is quite well done. Though the guy that the other guy is filming isn’t much of an actor, there’s a modicum of suspense and the Guatemalan location passes so well for Egypt that I actually thought the filmmakers actually had risked their lives and shot in that country until I realised how dumb that thought was. Of course the camera wobbles about madly when the two are attacked and then it’s fade to black. It’s a good job this scene is in the film actually, because it sets up some suspense that probably wouldn’t exist otherwise in a film that waits until the last 15/20 minutes for its monster to appear. Of course some films get away with expertly building up a sense of unease and/or tension, but Day Of The Mummy doesn’t really bother with doing much of that. It’s one of those films that isn’t exactly boring, but you keep thinking could be better. It doesn’t have much of that great Mummy mythos either. You here some stuff about an evil Pharoah having been murdered by his brother – we’re told that he was nailed to the ground, his chest cut open and salt poured into his heart, then his nose cut off and a book shoved into his skull – and this magical diamond The Codex Stone [doesn’t sound very Egyptian, that] which is put inside him and keeps him alive though powerless, and that’s really it. Like too many Found Footage films, remove a couple of details and the peril could be almost anything else.
Our ‘eyes’ for most of the film’s goings-ons belong to Jack Wells, amusingly introduced waking up with two female companions. He’s a womanising scoundrel who’s just out for himself and has a somewhat shady past. His glasses camera keeps alighting on the sole female traveller’s cleavage, which doesn’t stop her paying him a visit in his tent to sleep with him. She’s called Kate, and is played by the lovely Andrea Monier from Black Water Vampire. We get the beginnings of the typical Found Footage movie scene where the person doing the filming asks everyone to introduce themselves and say something about themselves. Kate says she works for a private security firm, but then we don’t see anybody else interviewed. I guess they didn’t think it was necessary, and we’re probably all tiring of these scenes, but here it means that the other folk along for the ride barely register as characters and therefore we don’t care much about them when things get hairy, and things get hairy quite soon with some encounters with armed men, though the scenes aren’t as convincing as they should be and therefore lack the grim, realistic edge they should do. I did wonder, though, if the film would have been totally acceptable if it was all about the group just stranded or lost in the desert with no supernatural element but still danger of death.
When we finally get to see our Mummy he actually looks pretty good, with more accurate-looking wrapping than is usual [also see Hammer’s The Mummy’s Shroud, though the Mummy film this most reminds me of is The Mummy’s Hand] and a convincingly decomposed head. There’s a great scene where he appears behind someone which was the only time the film gave me a chill, though the most intense bit involves someone’s arm being trapped under rocks. There’s a reasonable amount of the red stuff, and a brief but convincing skull being cracked in two, but this Mummy is disposed of very quickly and unoriginally, and – big problem this – the film just isn’t scary. I don’t think it’s that hard to make a Found Footage film at least a little bit frightening, though at least this one doesn’t feel the need to try to make the viewer sick from lots of ‘shakycam’. This bane of modern cinema is more justified appearing in Found Footage movies than in ‘normal’ films, but this one proves a lot of it just isn’t necessary even in Found Footage. Unfortunately the makers of this film also felt the need for a score, which almost always detracts from the effect a Found Footage film should have and just makes no sense in context. Why?
William Mcnamara [God wasn’t it such a long time ago when he seemed to be on the verge of being a star?!] does okay as the lead considering we only occasionally see his face. The acting overall is a mixed bag, some [such as some gunmen] quite poor, though to be honest you wouldn’t automatically expect great performing from a film like this, so taken into consideration it’s not too bad overall. I tend to believe that one should be a little kinder to really low budget affairs like Day Of The Mummy than big Hollywood blockbusters, so taken in that context it’s not exactly a bad movie, and the Mummy has certainly survived worse, but it’s definitely a mediocre one, and one that you’ll probably forget a few days later.