Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
April 1st, 2019

The Domestics

Asylum of the Dead
The Domestics
Directed by Mike P. Nelson
Written by Mike P. Nelson
Starring Kate Bosworth, Sonoya Mizuno, Tyler Hoechlin
95 mins

I've always had a fondness for properly-done post-Apocalyptia, because it has a pleasant tinge of the possible to it. It also commonly blends horror and action together quite well, and that combination of plausibility and excitement does well. So when "The Domestics" emerged, I took a fairly active interest, and now, we see if that pays off.

"The Domestics" follows a husband and wife duo who, in the time after an event which turned their lives into a slice of post-Apocalyptia thanks to a series of big black clouds known as the "black poison" delivered by what look like modified C-130s, need to travel from one place to another. Under normal circumstances, this might make "The Domestics" a comedy at least, a drama at most, but with assorted factions of bloodthirsty horde running amok in the now rule-of-law-free United States, well, making that trip is never as easy as you'd think. Can our dynamic duo make it to their destination intact? Or will they fall prey to the hordes demanding their blood for lack of anything better to do and because it's reasonably close to clean water, which is always hard to find post-Apocalypse?

They had me at "factions", to be honest, because I've also had a fondness for faction-based action. I love watching dualing modalities, dualing ideologies, going at each other, often in the literal sense with a whole shit-ton of explosives. And there will be no shortage of them here, including such thoroughly piquant names as the Sheets, the Gamblers, the Cherries, the Plowboys, and the Nailers. Indeed, they actually mesh up somewhat with their names; the Cherries, for example, are a legion of ultra-third-wave-feminist "man-haters." The Sheets dress in, well, bedsheets. The Plowboys favor killing via truck, which naturally is heavily outfitted with a hood-mounted snowplow.

The Domestics, meanwhile, are just the regular folks trying to survive amid the bizarre carnage of the latest Sheet / Nailer turf war, or whatever the deuce is going on here.

Thankfully, we don't need a whole lot of details; the gangs are pretty much just set pieces, roadblocks to get past for our husband and wife in the midst of their various travails. Not only do we have the Apocalypse raging, but our husband and wife duo have some internal strife of their own to settle. That's noteworthy; we've seen this kind of thing dozens of times before in indie film and it's kind of a yawn at this point, but when you throw in the ultraviolence, the gang warfare, and the lunatic truckers driving murder-plows around, suddenly the whole thing takes on a new and noteworthy light.

It's not all Thunderdome and gunplay, though; it's got a few flaws in it, like the comparative improbability of a man being able to drive a flathead screwdriver through a man's skull and out through his mouth. It also has a tendency to be a bit disjointed, going from scene to scene without a whole lot of overarching interconnection. "The Domestics" has introduced a very exciting and noteworthy world, but it's a bit too heavy on concepts and not sufficiently heavy on plot to really pan out.

The ending is about as good as it could be given the sheer chaos we've been a part of in the midst of "The Domestics." It's hardly conclusive and there are a raftload of loose ends left, but it's serviceable.

Special features here are a mite limited, restrained to English and Spanish audio and English subtitles. No trailers or anything, a mite sad, but at least the bare-minimum is covered.

All told, "The Domestics" has bit off a lot more than it can chew. By itself, it is a decent enough movie, but it has left behind so many unanswered questions and so many distinct possibilities that it's almost painful to watch. Much in the same way that "Cabin in the Woods" disappointed, there's so much that could be here, but likely will never be.