Film Review: Damned by Dawn (2009)

SYNOPSIS:

During a violent thunderstorm, a family is awoken by piercing shrieks which summon the dead to rise again. Their lives explode in a blood soaked fury as they battle malevolent spirits, whilst fighting to save their souls from eternal torment with… the Banshee

REVIEW:

I saw a really creepy film today. To be honest, I was surprised at the level of cinematic perfection this film had as these kind of films usually make the press alot earlier. To top that, it has the coolest on-screen ambience I’ve seen in long time, maybe even as far back as 30 years ago. Filled with foggy, misty, gloomy, Dracula’s castle-like moorish atmosphere, you can’t help but assume some creepy specters will be jumping out of the nearest tree or open window. I can tell ya the fog machines were working overtime on this one. But beyond the technical details, the atmosphere was perfect for any kind of scare they wanted to throw at you. The color tones were also adjusted to a cool cold blue an green hue set against a background of twisted trees and grim looking hills.

To setup the story, we have Claire (Renee Willner) and her boyfriend Paul (Danny Alder) who have set out to visit her family. The area is a clearly countryside located village that looks more like they live in some kind of rural graveyard. They arrive at the request of her mother Nana and father Bill (Peter Stratford). Nana has been mostly bed-ridden and quickly approaching her final hours. Claire arrives with a vase that was sent to her with specific instructions.

The vase itself is a mystery but it seems to be important to Nana’s last requests. Well, shortly after arriving things begin to really get odd. A thunderstorm sets the mood as strange forces awake the undead . Now if I told ya that Banshee’s, reapers, ghouls and ghosts would be running about it sounds more like a sequel to Ghost busters. But that’s not the case here. Upon being woken by a blood curdling ongoing scream, the family can’t help but investigate what the hell is keeping them up. Coming from outside, they assume it to be some kind of animal but once Claire catches a glimpse of the source hovering ever so bizarrely, the Banshee comes a calling.

Now this is one helluva Banshee, bleeding from the eyes due to centuries of crying she doesn’t have to do much except float and arrive to scare the bajeezes out of you. Claire decides she’s had enough banshee wailing and pushes her over the outside balcony impaling the demon pretty effectively. Now this can’t be good as the Banshee returns the favor by calling upon her friends……. literally dozens of these beyond-the-dead floating death bringers. Pretty soon it’s a sh*t fest of ghouls murking about. These spirits are out for blood. Swinging blades and scythe, they attack the family while those who are left behind outside get a good round of being zombified.

While alot of the spectral apparitions are clearly CGI characters they appear to blend with the backing pretty well that it doesn’t distract from the fact that they “are” blended in. There is a slight touch of humor but it’s mostly subtle in favor of keeping the scares up front.

The Banshee played by Bridget Neval has to be the best Banshee I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe as far back as the Sinbad movies. Due to its Australian origin, the film has a pace and story that doesn’t get caught up in the mold of several US horror films. This in itself is a plus to the production.

Regardless, writer and director Brett Anstey really gets this creature and knows how to make her work on screen. Really, I don’t have any complaints. I enjoyed every minute of it and feel confident that this film will be a shelf favorite soon. The film is Australian…. so for now it might only be available as an import. Damned by Dawn is highly original and gushes a full dose of chills!

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4 Responses to Film Review: Damned by Dawn (2009)

  1. superscary says:

    I,ve seen this movie and is awesome everything is right about this one creepy landscapes like a misty countryside, forests, caves, mansions and a graveyard.
    Its a good story treu of irish folklore ( even dutch, witte wieven ). Altough the actors are not familiar they,ve dun a great job to make it al believable you can feel the terror when the banshee visits the house when she comes for the grandmother.

    In a world filled with slasher movies and maniacs this one jumps right out of freshnes en originality while the story actually is centuries old.
    to my opinion it deserves a theatrical release its that great.

  2. Lou says:

    Hard to figure out……..all over the place……..I shouldn’t have to be here half way through the movie to get on track

  3. e8hffff says:

    The acting and lines could have been better, especially the main character and her sister.

    The film also lacks consistency with day and night filming. What is supposed to be night is clearly day filming in many shots. Some are acceptable as in the car racing from house.

    Probably one of the better Australian horrors.

  4. e8hffff says:

    Some areas of improvement:

    The Banshee/Screamer I would have had with grey hair, not youthful, along with the eyes and lips shots should have been aged up.

    The Cockroaches leaving the cave was enough for one scene, not two as it doesn’t make sense that a cave would have so many. The only way to understanding this would be they fell out of the undead.

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