The latest Netflix original scores points for originality. And that's more or less it.
You know you’ve done something remarkable when you make a Nazi zombie film and your follow-up is less believable.
Director Tommy Wirkola is the culprit behind two “Dead Snow” romps. Now, he’s teaming with Netflix for an original tale that plays like its brains were devoured mid-production.
His “What Happened to Monday” is never dull. It’s merely the dopiest sci-fi you’ll see all year, assuming you missed “Sharknado 5.”
At times, the film gives the Syfy series a run for its money.
The film is set in the near future when overpopulation threatens the globe. So the government concocts a “One Child Policy” to reduce the strain on the food supply. Guess this film won’t have a robust release in China…
That means parents who have more than one child must submit them to a cryo-freeze program. The young uns will sleep until a future date when resources are more plentiful.
(Then again, if all those kids suddenly re-enter the population we could be back to square one … but “Monday” doesn’t sweat many details).
The policy leaves Willem Dafoe’s character in a conundrum. His daughter dies after giving birth to seven children. He refuses to deliver six of the babies to the cryo-sleep program.
Instead, he trains them in his secluded home to live in public as one person. Each child goes out under the same name – Karen Settman. And each child is allowed to be outdoors one day a week. Their names help keep that clear. The all-female twins are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday … you get the drill. Each is played by Noomi Rapace, who delivers a performance she’ll regret seven times over.
Dafoe’s children do as told. And his plan to let them out in daily morsels works perfectly … until Monday doesn’t return one night.
Now that’s a daffy setup, but certainly an original one. And in our reboot age that counts for something.
Only everything that follows is just plain dumb. The government, personified by a creepy Glenn Close, keeps a closer eye on its citizens than your average dictatorship. Check points are everywhere. So are armed guards making sure the “One Child” rule is followed.
Yet the Settman siblings move about rather freely at times.
FAST FACT: Two years ago, The New York Times published a withering piece describing why Paul Ehrlich’s “population bomb” theory fizzled.
The film opens with a Whitman’s sampler of liberal alarmism.
- Genetically engineered food!
- Climate Change!
- Darn those fossil fuels!
It’s like ThinkProgress.com … The Movie!
The siblings all have distinct looks, from their style choices to their hair. Phew. Otherwise, good luck distinguishing them from each other. One sibling is a hacker because she wears ugly glasses and knit cap indoors while indoors.
Yes, it’s that kind of movie.Each is played by Noomi Rapace, who delivers a performance she'll regret seven times over.Click To Tweet
It all sounds like a mess, and it is. Wirkola is smart enough to take little of this seriously. The progressive bombardment ends once the story kicks into gear. We get gory “kills” that will please horror hounds. And a few neat sci-fi wrinkles catch us flat-footed. People are able to tap into a web-like service on their palms, for example.
We’re also treated to some gross-out moments you won’t soon forget. One involves a child’s fingers, but we’ve already said too much. The film’s most shocking revelation about the future? Man buns are still a thing.
“What Happened to Monday” shows Netflix isn’t just chasing high-brow fare for its film slate. At its worst, “Monday” is like those B-movies that pop up on the service’s “Recently Added” section, and you wonder, “well, how can it be?”
You’ve been warned.
HiT or Miss: “What Happened to Monday” delivers an intriguing setup but lacks the follow-up to deliver on its dizzying promise.