If you need a break from the endless parade of holiday movies out there, a pretty solid take on the whole post-apocalyptic zombie genre with some cool guns is on Netflix right now. You probably missed it, but two years ago Johnny Strong starred in Daylight’s End, which is set some unspecified amount of time (less than a decade for sure) after a mysterious plague has devastated the planet and turned most people into bloodthirsty undead creatures. They’re sort of a mix between vampires and zombies…they go after your blood, they don’t try to eat you, which makes things a little more problematic. In say, The Walking Dead, a solid percentage of zombie victims simply become food without being turned, consumed by attacking zombies. In DE, almost everyone who gets attacked is turned. Also like vampires, the creatures combust in sunlight, so you have a I Am Legend / Omega Man type of set up where the creatures hide in dark places during the day, and people are relatively safe to move about, but as soon as night falls, they have to be entrenched and protected.
But it doesn’t seem you have to do anything fancy to kill the undead, not even score a headshot. They go down like a regular person.
Strong, who you might know from his portrayal of Randy Shughart in Black Hawk Down (2001). Shughart was a Delta Force special forces soldier who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his action in the Battle of Mogadishu in October, 1993.
In this considerably lighter fare, he plays Thomas Rourke, a drifter on a vengeful crusade after his family is killed during the plague outbreak. He stumbles on a band of survivors somewhere in Texas led by Frank Hill (Lance Henricksen), who are holed up in a prison, but have plans to escape on a cargo plane to a reported safe haven.
If you get a blender and you put in some Rick Grimes and Mad Max, you basically get Rourke.
He has a rough running car outfitted with steel wire armor over the windows and various hidden weapons and he occasionally uses it and some chains to drag the undead out into the daylight.
He wears a chest mag carrier at all times with plenty of extra magazines with Magpuls on them and other assorted gear.
His primary firearm is a Springfield M1A SOCOM 16 with a wood stock, which is rare as the gun has only appeared two other movies despite being on the market for over a decade: in the hands of an anonymous Umbrella Soldier in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) and a brief appearance being carried by a Texas Rangers SOG officer in Hell or High Water (2016).
Oddly enough, it also made an appearance in Season 7 of The Walking Dead and in a handful of video games, including Far Cry 3 and 4 as the MS16.
Frankly, its nice to see a main character with something other than an AR, though the movie has plenty of those as well.
Rourke’s SOCOM 16 is outfitted with a red dot sight mounted in a scout rifle position. It also has what is supposed to be a small suppressor affixed to the muzzle instead of the rifle’s factory compensator.
The SOCOM 16 is a shortened carbine version of the M1A, which is a civilian reproduction of the military’s M14 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. rifle.
It has a 16-inch barrel and is relatively compact, but otherwise operates like the M1A and M14. Rourke sometimes uses what look like 10-round magazines as well as 20-rounders. In one closeup, you can clearly see “SOCOM 16” on the bolt.
Regardless of the name, the rifle has nothing to do with the actual SOCOM (U.S. Special Operations Command), but is just a “tactical” variant of the target M1A.
For a sidearm, Rourke carries a simple Colt M1911A1 with what like like Chip McCormick Power Mag extended 10-round magazines.
Hill also carries a Colt 1911, but his is nickel plated and engraved.
We see a lot of Glock 17s in the hands of survivors, including a couple from the hostile clan who attack our heroes near the beginning.
Earnesta (Heather Kafka) uses a Beretta 92FS and Ethan Hill (Louis Mandylor), Frank’s son, carries a SIG Sauer P226.
Those are all pretty standard fare, but the long guns are pretty varied for a movie without a huge budget. They include a few AK variants, including an AK-104 with an AKS-74 style side-folding stock and suppressor carried by Vlad Romanov (Sonny Puzikas), an MPi-KM-71 with a plastic stock and slanted muzzle device used by Earnesta, and a Romanian WASR used by one of the hostels survivors at the beginning—plus we see an AKMSU at one point.
There’s also a mix of other semi-auto long guns like the FN LAR, an AR-18 with a Magpie magazine, a spattering of M16s and AR-15s. At least one hostile survivor uses an M1 Garand when attacking the group of scouts.
Burton (Mark Hanson) uses a Key-Tec KSG bullpup shotgun topped with an EOTech holographic sight and back-up iron sights as well as a laser sight. We see a bad guy with a sawed off Mossberg 500AT pump shotgun and in the prison, Rourke uses a cut down double-barrel side-by-side shotgun with exposed hammers to shoot an infected guy after it’s dropped by a guard when he’s attacked.
Hill also uses a newer-model double barrel that looks like a Stevens 311A with barrels that have been cut down to coach gun length.
All in all, its a fairly entertaining genre movie with good gunfights, good effects, and a fairly good story that’s worth a watch. As far as gun stuff goes, they missed the mark hard in sound editing. In the beginning, we hear Rourke’s gunshots, which sound like typical suppressed Hollywood gun fire, whisper quiet .308s from a tiny 6-inch can.
But disappointingly, a lot of the unsuppressed gunfire had this same sound, even when fired indoors: more of a thwip and zap than a bang. It really took a lot away from the atmosphere, especially inside the prison.
Also, and this is a common movie thing when it comes to guns, the main character—even though he’s actually shown carrying a bunch of spare ammo—is rarely seen reloading, even though he has a fairly low-capacity firearm.