Artist Lulu (Drew Lindsey Mitchell) leaves an abusive relationship with Shane (Bobby Slaski), and orders a “Kart” to take her to her uncle’s costume party. (As an aside, the fictitious naming of ridesharing apps is the new 555!) She is dressed as Red Riding Hood. The driver is dressed as a clown and leers at her while touching himself.
A despondent Dylan (Kelcey Watson) enters a remote cabin and puts a gun in his mouth. Before he pulls the trigger he hears Lulu crying for help and pounding on his door. He lets her in and learns she has escaped abduction. Soon the three that abducted her arrive at the door: Neil (Bo Burroughs), “Snack” (Jamie Bernadette), and Chad (Timothy Muskatell). Dylan and the three are warily polite, but he doesn’t believe their story of a lost sister, and tells them to leave the property.
They turn nasty and threaten to burn down the cabin, but leave til sunset. Inside, Lulu and Dylan prepare for a siege.
Can I say the title annoys me? “Dead by Dawn” is either a reference to the Evil Dead series or they just never thought to google the name. It has, let me be clear, nothing to do with the Evil Dead.
This movie is ham-fisted, badly-acted, and has few surprises. In traditional horror movie style it is interspersed with bits of comic relief that are forced and unfunny. The purpose of humor in a horror/thriller film is to relieve tension, and thus to set the viewer up for further scares they are unprepared for. This does not do that.
Part of that is the threat. Neil (presumably the guy in the clown suit) is the leader, he’s sadistic and smirking, and his beard scruff magically grows about a weeks’-worth after the first scene. Snack, an intended goth vamp type who simpers childish-but-violent rhymes like a weak imitation of Spider Baby. And the third guy, the be-suited uncle of Lulu (this is not really a spoiler, it’s set up very early), who lusts after his niece and arranged for the whole abduction. They are not scary, they are not menacing, they are not even funny. They squabble throughout and any dose of character comes from infodump monologuing and adds nothing to the film.
Inside the cabin are Lulu and Dylan, neither of whom are particularly interesting, though both have a somewhat tragic backstory. Dylan, for my money, is the best-acted of the entire cast.
This will be on Good Bad or Bad Bad someday, mark my words.
There are plot holes, continuity errors, rape depicted for humor, and the best part is in the trailer: inside the cabin, Dylan and Lulu defend the cabin by Home Alone-ing the place using notes from Dylan’s dead daughter that she wrote in case of a zombie siege.
Parts are kind of fun in a sadistic way, but I honestly doubt this will wind up on anyone’s favorite list as horror, thriller, horror-comedy, home invasion or revenge film.
Rating: 4 out of 10 Deranged Clowns
|Dead By Dawn|
|Runtime:||1 hour 25 minutes|