review for The 24th Day on AllMovie

The 24th Day (2004)
by Josh Ralske review

HIV transmission is used as a plot device in Tony Piccirillo's banal two-hander The 24th Day. Ostensibly a thriller, the film never generates much tension or much interest in its sketchy characters and their dilemma. Attractive to low-budget filmmakers for obvious reasons (limited location and casting hassles), these type of battle-of-wills-between-two-characters-trapped-in-single-room psychological thrillers are rarely successful. The exceptions, like John Furse's moving hostage drama, Blind Flight, rely on outstanding performances and keen psychological insight. This film possesses neither. Scott Speedman irritatingly mumbles and whispers his way through the role of Tom, evoking the character's tortured wounded soul with every throaty line. In line with Piccirillo's use of bombastic musical cues in a few key scenes, Speedman's acting is all on the surface. Tom is not a well-drawn character, with his indeterminate sexuality and unconvincing motivations, and Speedman gives us a brooding, hollow interpretation of his rage, grief, and regret. For his part, James Marsden at least offers some of charm, though Dan's behavior, once it's clear that his life is in jeopardy, is equally unfathomable. Piccirillo's efforts at temporal play, monochromatically flashing back to several different points in Tom's past, serves only to confuse and distend the action. Worst of all, the film's judgmental take on the AIDS crisis seems motivated more by the dramatic needs of an ineffective twist ending than by anything heartfelt.