After Casper Galloway reluctantly agrees to watch his grandfather Horus’s infamous occult shop he makes a drastic error in judgment, ignoring senior Galloway’s instructions. While attempting to impress the object of his desire and a group of unlikely bystanders, he accidentally unleashes an evil curse that causes people to kill themselves and turn into zombie demons aka Zemons. Will the youths be able to rise above a seemingly doomed town or will they ultimately discover each will be Dead Before Dawn?
Directed By: April Mullen
Starring: Devon Bostick, Christopher Lloyd, Martha MacIsaac, Brandon Jay McLaren, Brittany Allen, Tim Doiron, April Mullen, Kevin McDonald
The creative team of writer Tim Doiron and director April Mullen deliver an innovative production high on laughs, zaniness, gore, action and even a slice of romance. This mish-mash zombie genre is a landmark within its own right being the first ever all Canadian low-budget production shot entirely in stereoscopic 3D. Admittedly I had screened Dead Before Dawn in its slightly inferior 2D format, yet it takes not a technical wizard to see how ingenious and polished the final product will appear jumping out at an unassuming audience. Several scenes are captured in a bubble type format, highlighting the dialogue that ensues between the Galloway’s via telephone. Varying objects being tossed from one character to its recipient will surely cause the viewer to dodge on reflex. I’ll indulge not in exuberant amounts of plot spoilers but suffice to state there is pretty grisly action maximized by the technological specs at hand.
Casting of the film was done quite brilliantly and the producers were extremely fortunate to achieve the star power of one Devon Bostick who plays Casper Galloway. You may remember him from the runaway hit, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Bostick truly steals the show. We feel his angst and virtually writhe in our seats at his perpetual awkwardness. Christopher Lloyd, the legendary actor from Back to the Future and Taxi television series is wonderfully cast in the role of Horus Galloway, the occult shop owner and Casper’s grandfather. The presence of these two performers set the precedence for an irreplaceable chemistry between the balance of the cast. Each accentuates the other, making the performances resonate long after the final credits have rolled.
The writing for Dead Before Dawn is original and fresh despite being included in an overly saturated genre of zombies. Doiron crafts a likeable group of characters that translate well unto a global audience. The absurdity of the curse, created from the college co-eds is unapologetically over the top nearing satirical proportions yet it somehow seems to work here. The dialogue and interaction between the characters is contemporary, trendy and rains true. The lines are composed so fluently its indicative fans will be quoting their favourite characters in conversation for years to come.
Special effects and make up department really must be commended for a fantastic presentation of ghastly, ghoulish looking Zemons. One scene stands out in particular where a soulless, black eyed, grey skinned cheerleader rises from the football field, seemingly staring directly through whatever stands in her way. Its spine tingling, skin crawling unease, no easy feat to be accomplished by any film creators, not to mention a directors introduction into horror.
The team of Dorion and Mullen are a cohesive unit, consummate professionals. Romantically linked behind the scenes its admirable to witness their personal life does not interfere with production. Doiron’s character Seth Munday has a brief moment of intimacy with Lucy Winthrop played by Brittany Allen. A lessor director could be consumed with jealousy but they pull it off with a non-issue. Perhaps most admirably is the homegrown talent of April Mullen, from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada and her devotion to her roots. Where a lot of other Canadians bury their roots in search of a more viable and accessible Hollywood, Mullen proudly showcases her origins always choosing locales in and around the Golden Horseshoe area, her alma mater and Canadian actors and crew.
-Four out of five tombstones.
Dead Before Dawn is Now Available on blu ray per Vivendi Entertainment
Dead Before Dawn 3D (2012)