Before Dawn (2012)

Before Dawn (2012)

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"Why did I agree to be in this film?!" *sobs uncontrollably, coughs up a lung*
“Why did I agree to be in this film?!” *sobs uncontrollably, coughs up a lung*

Twitter Plot Summary: A couple head off on a holiday to repair their relationship. But then the zombie apocalypse happens. Of all the luck, eh?

Starring and directed by that chap who played Paddy in Emmerdale (Dominic Brunt), Before Dawn is the story of a couple who go on holiday in a bid to save their relationship, but their plans are put on hold when the zombie apocalypse takes place. Except… there aren’t really that many zombies. Who makes a feature length zombie film with only half a dozen zombies? Once again, despite what were no doubt the best intentions of all involved, what we have here is another low budget horror film that lacks any solid justification for its existence. It’s a thematic void and light on zombie action, so fails to satisfy on either story or gore levels.

For some reason much of the dialogue appears to have been badly dubbed on afterwards – either they couldn’t afford to record live sound on the day or the outdoor locations used were too windy for the dialogue to be heard cleanly – it was shot in the wilderness that is Yorkshire after all. In any case, that sheer amount of ADR does eventually start to get irritate and becomes all the more noticeable the longer it goes on.

We’re supposed to believe that these characters were once in a caring and loving relationship, but we barely see that in the film itself. These are seemingly two people who are polar opposites and are clear proof that having nothing in common means it’s probably not going to work out, kids or no kids. There are at best flashes of their former relationship, but there’s no investment in fleshing that out – no pun intended.

"Say it: this film will be AWESOME! SAY IT! ...please say it."
“Say it: this film will be AWESOME! SAY IT!
…please say it.”

The zombies are the rage infected type, and look awful. Rather than looking dead they appear to have dipped their faces in a bag of flour which has caused a bit of irritation in their eyes. The very, very brief moments of violence are also spoiled by excessive use of shaky-cam, to the point where it’s not exciting, it’s nausea inducing. Dominic Brunt, meanwhile, spends much of his time mouth agape and staring into the middle distance. Not an attractive look at the best of times, but its frequent recurrence – in particular in a key scene which is supposed to be emotionally engaging – it does little else but cause a few unwanted chuckles.

Things pick up a little with the arrival of the mustachioed man known as Stephen (Nicky Evans), but only because he provides some context to what’s going on in the outside world and helps shake things up a little. But by the time he appears we’ve had two poorly staged zombie attacks and not much else, and there’s not much time left at that point for the film to redeem itself. It goes without saying that it doesn’t achieve this, although the odd moment of gore is as good as it gets.

The end result is that it’s not very good. Not very good at all. A shame that, as there is real opportunity for a good story using this template. In this case they clearly haven’t achieved what they originally set out to. It might have been better off taking setting the zombie apocalypse loose on an episode of Emmerdale, that would have at least proven to be entertaining.

Score: 1.5/5

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