Dead By Dawn (2020)

Director: Sean Cain
Starring: Drew Lindsey Mitchell, Kelcey Watson, Jamie Bernadette, Bo Borroughs, Timothy Muskatell .USA. 1h 15m

I’ve been dying to call this my first zombieless zombie movie! As it has everything lined up to be just that but instead it’s an indie cabin under siege adventure, it doesn’t pack a hard punch but it’s brilliantly accomplished movie with some questionable acting but full on heart and that makes it incredibly watchable.

Sean Cain has wonderful titles under his belt including Jurassic City (2015), Eruption LA (2018) and Terror Birds (2016), but stepping away from crazy apocalyptic b movie trash with an attempt to deliver a credible thriller and he’s really worked hard on a less than convincing plot but a brilliantly entertaining cabin in the wood thriller with a few poignant messages.

Despite the title and typical assumptions that horror only happens at night, quite a lot of this goes on during broad daylight, and it’s not quite the slasher in the woods story that the posters suggest, but don’t let this put you off, if you’re indie b movies this till raise expectations bar.

Lulu (Mitchell) is a gentle soul, the vegetarian abstract painter and yoga enthusiast just wants to attend her uncles halloween party when her oppressive dick of a boyfriend starts a pointless argument she leaves alone dolled up as Red Riding Hood, her Not-Uber driver turns up dressed as a clown but he has other things on his mind, soon fighting for her life and scrambling for help finding a remote cabin she bangs on the door screaming for help. Inside is an African American man, Dylan (Watson) who’s deeply depressed sitting on the edge of his bed, gun pointing to the roof of his mouth. They eventually pair up as they are quickly surrounded by a trio of thugs who are determined to reclaim their victim, Lulu. But luckily ??? is a quick thinker and incredibly supportive of the battered Lulu.

Between brief attempts to escape they find Dylan’s daughters zombie survival kit and book, the kid is cute but has some pretty solid responses to a zombie attack. They end up reading through her notes and enforce the house ready for being attacked by the sadistic peado psycho sexual nut cases that want them both to hurt a lot.

The atmosphere of the film is a bit comical as it’s approach is a little bit homemade, the acting is on the weak side but compelling in some fashion, the creeps outside the cabin are a mysterious suited guy Chad (Muskatell) who seems really out of place and sweats a lot and an over sexed psycho couple Neil (Burroughs) and Snack (Bernadette) who seems to like pain and knives, their constant nick name calling and need to show their dom and sub roles gets a bit tiresome but they are what they are.. Bad guys. Their motivations vary but they are all pretty determined to get this odd couple out of the home and under their sadistic control. But they aren’t all that threatening in the big scheme of things, they have sex in the woods a lot and spend most of their time shouting threats but the film does get bloody in it’s big expected show down when everyone begins to turn the violence up and its great!

Considering all the limitations I really ended up loving the film but it’s in no way a brilliant movie but there’s a brilliant dynamic between Dylan and Lulu. Their back stories are equally tragic, including the loss of a loved one and a crazy groomy story, their union helps to bolster them to face this massive deadly challenge. There’s a little clip after the movie ends which gives you some insight into how the survivor/s have changed after this ordeal and it’s charming…, maybe a chance for more?

There’s room for improvement, but to see Cain burst through to a different genre shows his versatility but he just needs to buckle down and try to make something damned near perfect to try and improve himself as a director I reckon this might be a good footing, I for one would like to see more of this, no matter how cheesy it might be on the surface.

Rating: 4/10

R: Cabin in the woods (2012), Static (2012)
L: Cabin Horror Movies
5s: Sean Cain
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