Eight years after his incendiary debut Four Lions premiered at Sundance, British satirist Chris Morris unveiled his follow-up The Day Shall Come at SXSW 2019. We were at the world premiere; you can check out the video of the Q&A below.
In this round, Morris has flipped the roles. Instead of a Four Lion-esque jihad satire, The Day Shall Come is an outrageous, farcical take on the FBI and their terrorist witch-hunts in the style of Veep (which Morris has also directed). Both over-the-top and bittersweet—perhaps because reality isn’t as far off as we’d like—the irony resonates; perhaps it takes a Brit to create this American lampoon. Performances are convincing to the point of hilarity. The FBI is laughably inept, improvising their daily grind by incubating terrorists—with casual indifference to other lives. Highlights include priceless interactions between Anna Kendrick and Denis O’Hare. As their chosen enemy, the potential terrorist cell—“The Star of Six Farm” crew—is lovably incompetent; when they claim to possess an air horn capable of summoning dinosaurs, we know that they believe. Led by Moses Al Shabazz (Marchánt Davis), these bumblers are more conspiracy theorists than radical extremists, more in need of charity than detainment.
For Morris, both the FBI and their homegrown bad guys are worthy targets—but The Day Shall Come has imperfect aim. At times, it feels more like a comedic press release than a compelling narrative—with a few too many one-liners about heads up asses—and that makes it hard to know when to laugh vs. where to dig into drama. Regardless, fans of Morris’s first gem should check out The Day Shall Come for another serving of his acerbic ingenuity.
With Joseph Heller-scale ambitions for deriding cold-war lunacy, The Day Shall Come is a caustic indictment of Homeland Security cloaked in plenty of fun. At the Q&A, cast-member Curtis Cook, Jr., accurately describes the movie as “putting medicine in the candy.”