‘Dead Before Dawn‘ is a Canadian comedy-horror that was released in 2012 and was directed April Mullen, and written by Tim Doiron.
Say hello to the world’s first zemon movie – for the uninitiated, that’s a zombie-demon hybrid.
Yup, Dead Before Dawn is an ambitious flick, coming up with a new monster good enough to fill out a franchise and bringing the always-brilliant Christopher Lloyd (the Doc in Back to the Future) to our screens once again.
The movie revolves around the Occult Barn (a local shop), as the owner Horus heads out to pick up an award one fateful day and leaves the place to his grandson.
When the grandson’s friends come to visit, they wind up knocking over an urn in which Horus had trapped a demon. Coming up with their own flippant curse where everyone they make eye contact with ends up killing themselves and coming back as a zemon, they soon find their jokes coming true and have to battle through till the morning and try to find a way to lift the curse. Oh yeah, and these zemons spread their infection by giving ‘hickeys’ to people, as opposed to the usual zombie method of biting people.
Balancing horror and comedy in a film like Dead Before Dawn can be tricky. You want to firmly land in the territory of horror, but still keep a light touch – and it simply doesn’t always work too well here. Devon Bostick, the young lead, has natural comic chops and brings out some of the most sublimely silly bits of the already over-the-top script, but the rest of the cast-which includes director April Mullen, struggle to let the crazy-but-entertaining plot take centre stage, apparently trying to one-up each other with their own zany antics.
And then there’s the script, which is so staggeringly self-aware and packed with in-jokes that you begin to wonder if anyone but a die-hard horror buff would find anything to enjoy. The pointed nature of the material begins to wear thin pretty quickly, despite some noble efforts by the cast to try and buck it up into something moderately watchable.
And if the film struggles on eking out the laughs, then sadly the scares aren’t much to write home about either. Instead of affectionately parodying the genre, Dead Before Dawn decides to abandon it altogether, not even really attempting to establish itself as an actual horror film. And the gore is distinctly thin on the ground-after all, these zemons spread their disease by giving hickeys, so if you wanted some good teeth-on-flesh action you’ll have to look elsewhere. It feels like a cop-out to call this film a horror, as it’s about as scary as a puppy in a Halloween mask and doesn’t seem to want to be anything different.
But these things in and of themselves should not have been enough to derail what was, at it’s core, a moderately entertaining premise with pretty lively direction and a decent cast. The film’s real failing is that it never takes itself seriously, stripping it of all seriousness to the point where the whole thing just becomes an exercise in stupidity. The production values are great, but the whole thing feels a little lacklustre, and I can’t help but wish that the budget had gone elsewhere.
Watch the trailer for ‘Dead Before Dawn’
Watch the full movie:
|Get the film at Amazon.com|
|Get the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Louise MacGregor