Poor, poor Danny Glover. Is this what the man’s doing nowadays? Doing stints in low-budget horror movies and bit parts in television shows? It’s a far cry from Lethal Weapon, and just look where his partner Mel Gibson is… oh wait, never mind. Still, it’s hard to imagine how Glover got roped into this mess of a mummy movie from director Johnny Tabor; it’s not like his role as the rich archaeological collector Carl is just a cameo, either, because he gets quite of bit of screentime in a little box in the left-hand corner of the screen. He also gets to deliver lines like, “Keep your eyes on the prize, not on the ass,” because that’s just the kind of script Day of the Mummy has.
Seeing his name on the cover of the film isn’t the only misleading thing about this DVD release, though. On the back of the case is a picture of hordes of mummies descending on a man with a machine gun, shot in first-person perspective like this is some sort of FPS shooter. I’ll tell ya what, it’s this kind of hokum that really pisses off horror fans – leave it to the disc’s artwork to give the viewer absolutely no sense of the real movie contained within. In a word, Day of the Mummy is as dry as the bones of its titular creature, an attempt to cash in on stuff like The Descent and As Above, So Below with their claustrophobic, confining settings.
You can blame it on the found footage perspective the film adopts, wherein our main character Jack Wells (William McNamara) wears a camera inside his glasses so that he can broadcast everything he sees back to Carl. He’s part of a team exploring the chasms of Neferu’s tomb, but with an added mission involving bringing back the fabled Codix Stone; the rest of the group doesn’t know that part though, so the film continues to jab fun at the rest of the explorers’ unwitting involvement, with Carl seemingly lacking any sort of morals or ethics as the group goes through one disaster after another. The found footage perspective is completely unnecessary to the plot itself – Carl rarely has anything to do but sit in the bottom part of the screen, the director presumably yelling at Glover to “squint at the screen in distress!” or “flop your hands around like a little kid throwing a tantrum!” – but Tabor uses it almost entirely for expositional purposes.
Nearly the first hour of Day of the Mummy has little happening in it. Tabor introduces us to the team, he sets up some very rough characterization – including Wells’ playboy qualities that seem to make women mad at him at first, then strangely wet – and makes us watch as Wells and company stumble through desert. By this time, I found myself concerned that maybe even the title of the film was lying to us, that there was no mummy to speak of. That is, until I saw the dude in the cloth-wrapped clothes pop out of the darkness, skitter around like a bad actor in a haunted house, and growl at the camera.
There’s little going for Tabor’s film, especially in terms of complexity, subtext, or even cinematography. But worse than that, Day of the Mummy is filled with inexplicable decisions. Why did Tabor choose to showcase the mummy in such bright light, where it’s very clear that this is a guy performing a monster in a suit, and badly at that? Why does the conclusion find Wells finally getting his hands on the Codix Stone and surviving to tell the tale, only for him to throw it away into the sands? Why does Kate (Andrea Monier) have a sexually ravenous look on her face despite being in grave danger? These are things that Day of the Mummy doesn’t care about: it has its “eye on the prize, not on the ass,” as Glover would say if he again starred in a film with a poor script.
It’s best to not venture down into the caverns of Neferu’s tomb, because the ratio of mummy-to-bad-found-footage-effects is very skewed. It’s unfortunate that Day of the Mummy doesn’t succeed in this regard, because mummies are poorly represented right now in horror. Maybe it’s because there’s not a lot to do with their storylines – you take a tomb, you take some archaeologists, you pit him against a guy in wraps. Still, Day of the Mummy plays out more like a profanity-laced Abbott and Costello routine, and unfortunately Glover and McNamara are the butt of the joke.