By Seth Metoyer, MoreHorror.com,
"Inner peace is the best fire." - Rose, The Dawn
I have this weird habit of watching movies late at night with the audio down and closed captioning on. Something unique happens though when watching a film without sound. Alfred Hitchcock said that any film worth watching should still be watchable if the sound ever happens to cut out. He would know. He began his career directing silent films.
I think a lot of people often miss out on a major aspect of movies by either not having closed captioning on or simply not paying attention to what's happening on screen. That aspect of course is the dialog. I actually watch every film with closed captioning on, even if I have the audio up. I feel like I'm missing out on something if I don't have captions rolling.
I've watched The Dawn three times now. Yes, during the second and third viewings I had the audio up. One thing that I love about movies is that there are many characters that make a film come to life, and they aren't all human characters. The sound design here is top-notch and the music used throughout the film really lends to the overall aesthetics of the film. In fact, as a composer myself, the music is something that I am really mindful of in any film. What sort of character did the score play? Did it add to or take away from the story? In The Dawn, I believe the music added an extra layer to the beauty and horror that transpired through the movie.
Visually, The Dawn is beautifully lit and shot. The color grading is done well, and the film never feels claustrophobic, until it means to be. Many times the main character Rose, played wonderfully by actress Devanny Pinn (Crossbreed, Casey Anthony: An American Murder Mystery, Bus Party to Hell) seemed free and other times she was extremely trapped and tormented. Pinn exhudes beauty and angelic elegance on screen as the innocent adult Rose then skillfully transforms into the devious and often frightening tormented Rose. In fact, the main theme running throughout The Dawn seems to be duality. The dichotomy of beauty and horror. Hot and cold. Peace and torment. Good and evil.
Director Brandon Slagle (House of Manson, Crossbreed, Attack of The Unknown) is at the top of his game here as he creates a world that feels eerie, cold, and also alluring. The Dawn is a slow-burning film that has several story threads going on at the same time. Did I mention you might want to have closed captioning on in order to make sure you follow the intertwined story-lines here? There's a lot going on, and the more I see the film and think about it, the more comfortable I feel saying that those who didn't even get through half of this movie either have zero attention span or they are just plain uninterested in storytelling.
A pleasant addition to the cast is the beautiful and talented Stacey Dash (Clueless, View from the Top, Ghost Image) as Sister Ella. Dash brings a sense of calming to the film and a great contrast to the tormented version of adult Rose. Actor Ryan Kiser (House of Manson, Crossbreed, Gangster Land) plays the hell out of a mysterious Priest named Jeremiah. Kiser perpetually illuminates the screen with his sinister eyes and crooked smile. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but paranormal fans who are familiar with the address 112 Ocean Avenue should really enjoy this character and story arc.
I can't finish this review without throwing out a little nod to the young actress Teilor Grubbs who plays "Young Rose". I thought that she handled the source material well and showed a lot of acting maturity on-screen. Actor David Goryl as Father Theodore, actress Heather Wynters as Reverend Mother Agnes, actress Julie Rose as Frances and actor Jonathan Bennett as William round out the cast nicely.
Overall I enjoyed The Dawn. All the facets are in place here for a trip into the spiritual realm of a cursed girl wanting to eventually take her vows to become a Nun while battling something sinister within herself and it deserves to be taken in its entirety.
Paranormal movies that don't rely on jump scare after jump scare can be difficult to pull off, and especially difficult to please are fans of the genre that are used to that approach. I suggest absorbing this film wholly and to allow the storytelling a chance to unfold before quitting on it early and judging it for something it's not or think it should have been.
The Dawn synopsis:
Following the murder of her family at the hands of her father in the wake of World War I, a young woman goes to live in a convent. However, the demons that plagued her father follow, reawakening the nightmares of her past.
The Dawn movie Trailer: