Opening up with what appears to be great news, and just as fast letting its audience know this film isn't about the best that life has to offer, "Day Zero" is a somber look at selfishness and depression. All rolled into a quick ten-minute lesson seen through the eyes of a newly penitent man.
Evan Bergman is clearly not one for wasting time, and although I'll keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, the nature of this film makes sure I'm going to give away some of the details. With that written, in a nutshell, Abe is the picture-perfect embodiment of success. Nice apartment, a smart and beautiful wife, and a career that just seems to be getting better and better. From the outside looking in, he's the kind of guy others aspire to be. Like all of us however, Abraham also has his flaws and is definitely not perfect. For him, vanity with a side order of selfishness seems to have infiltrated his personality - and like so many of us, he's barely even aware of it.
It's only when Abe finds his girlfriend Libby, unconscious on the bathroom floor, that he really takes stock of his relationship - and perhaps even life in general. She has overdosed on pills and things are not looking good at all. After calling 911, and taking Libby into his arms, Abe begins his self-study. He reflects on his relationship with Libby as the two sit slumped in the bathroom shower. As he waits for help to arrive, we viewers are made aware of their life together - showing us the gradual breakdown of their relationship - and Libby's mental health. Perhaps the most powerful thing about this short film, is its ability to show us just how slowly and innocently a breakdown can occur. The truth is that Abe could be any one of us... and that's a scary thought.
It may sound a little silly, but one of the things I quickly noticed about "Day Zero" was the excellent use of transitions - and good editing overall. It's one of those things that really make or break a film, and when it comes to indie movies, a bad transition is a hallmark of micro-budget filmmaking. Bergman's film nails a pacing that really keeps the story moving forward, and considering the content, the slick feel of the film was just as important as the acting.
Speaking of which, it just so happens that the roles of Abe and Libby were excellently handled by Lohrasp Kansara and Maria Castillo. They both came across as natural - and it's really not hard to see the progression of their relationship. Considering the actual length of this film, a double thumbs-up is in order for giving the viewer so much in so little time. With that written, I did find myself wishing there was a little more movie here. I would have loved to have seen more details of the aftermath, and a scene or two more - leading up to the "event" couldn't have hurt. It's not often I wish a low-budget film was a little longer, but in this case, I certainly did.
"Day Zero" is a film that uses a relationship, and a tragedy, to demonstrate the effects of constantly feeling underappreciated, and alone in life. It's an age-old story that so many of us never intend to repeat, but sometimes do none the less. Evan Bergman and his troupe perfectly demonstrate how easy it is to become self-absorbed, forgetting the people in our lives that truly matter. "Day Zero" also touches on just how fragile a mind can be. This really was a good film, and a great tale of caution. Four stars.