Every twenty years on the border between the United States and Mexico, there are days that locals call timelessness when the gods descend to earth to take human souls. This is Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon’s horror The Nameless Days.
According to the film’s opening titles, the Aztec calendar contained five days that belonged to no particular month, and it was during these so-called ‘nameless days’ that Aztecs believed dead spirits could return to the Earth. Nameless days were also part of Mayan folklore too, so with them being a part of South American culture we already have a fascinating premise with a lot of promise.
As the film opens the audience is taken to the US/Mexican border and thrown straight into the human trafficking aspect of immigration. A cartel brings a bus full of immigrants (including a brother and his pregnant sister) to the border and as they begin to push their human cargo across country lines when something, possibly supernatural and definitely horrific, attacks them all. It’s an excellent opening that really gives you a sense of time and place, it also helps set the tone providing some genuine tension, and not just of the potential horror to come but also of the desperate human aspect of an only too real situation.
After its promising beginnings, the film changes tack and begins to focus on a different story – that of a father and his teenage daughter who have a strained relationship. They own a farm on the Texan side of the border and have been having issues with both each other and illegal immigrants invading their property. There is nothing particularly bad about this from a technical point of view, the story is quite strong, the relationships are all very believable, and while the acting is really good, after such a great opening we were expecting more horror, more thrills, and more tension, but for almost forty minutes, not a great deal happens; we are given a few jump scares and some exposition, but it means the film slows right down before anything exciting happens again. Once you have lost your audience it is very difficult to get them back but to give Mecham and Whedon due credit, they try, the only problem is that when they do the horror tends to happen off-screen and while this works occasionally in film, after Nameless Days’ lull in proceedings, I personally was craving for so much more. Despite lots of nods to Ringu, not enough happens in the final third, leaving everything feeling somewhat a little anticlimactic.
Yet despite some of these big flaws, I really liked Nameless Days and consider it to be a very good film. Ally Ioannides, who plays Nicole, is a hugely likable protagonist and very reminiscent of 80’s Courteney Cox, while Charles Halford is just as good as her loyal father. The entire supporting cast are great and they help anchor the film, there isn’t a weak link in the cast. There is also quality cinematography from Ryan Hannah, giving us some beautiful shots of the Utah landscape and his imagery of the antagonist walking through the mist is effectively eerie. Keep an eye out for the transition from the opening to the farm that sees Nicole simply running up a snow-covered path towards home. It’s beautiful. The make-up and prosthetics effects of the monster are great, helping to provide us with a memorable villain, while the Aztec-inspired score by Christian Davis is also a positive.
Overall, I was fully behind The Nameless Days, it’s a great premise with great performances and an interesting story. The script and direction from Whedon and Mecham have moments of real quality with some cleverness to the ending, but the film is just let down by its pacing issues. At the end of the 90 minutes, I knew I had seen a hugely talented creative team working extremely well together, but that realisation just left me more frustrated. The Nameless Days promises so much and comes so close to delivering a major cinematic experience, that it falls a little bit short is a little disappointing.