A Dying Escape
Bruce Von Stiers
About six weeks ago, the film Dead By Dawn was released. It was billed as a horror film, but to me, it was more of a thriller. The film is all about abduction, the thrill of the kill and the overwhelming need to escape.
Drew Lindsay Mitchell stars as Lulu. She is a young woman who seems to be a bit timid. Lulu has an abusive boyfriend named Shane (Bobby Slaski). Lulu wants to go to her uncle's party but Shane, having discovered something about Lulu, doesn't want to go. Lulu has one of those indie ride service people pick her up. But the guy is in a clown costume and seems a bit weird. And he likes to touch himself.
The next thing you know, Lulu is banging on the door of a cabin high in the woods. Dylan, the cabin's owner, had been on verge of doing something drastic when Lulu shows up. She tells Dylan that people are hunting her and could he please help. Lulu is bruised, cut up and bloody. Dylan is naturally suspicious, but decides to help Lulu.
Two guys and a woman show up looking for her. But their story doesn't jibe with Lulu's. Dylan orders them to leave. That is when the fun really begins.
Why do the men and the woman really want Lulu for? Had they abducted her and were trying to get her back? Was Lulu really delusional as one of the men want Dylan to believe? Or is this a segment of a very sick game that Lulu is a part of?
As Lulu fleshes out her story to Dylan, he realizes they are both in danger. Or so it would seem. With the remembrances of a daughter who was no longer there, Dylan comes up with a plan to save them both.
As I mentioned earlier, Drew Lindsey Mitchell plays Lulu. This is her first feature film, having starred in two film shorts previously. Kelsey Watson portrays Dylan. He can be seen in an episode of Mad About You and the film short Shoot The Saxophone Player.
The two men who seem to be hunting Lulu are Neil and Chad. In the film No Solicitors, Timothy Muskatell played the coroner. He plays Chad in this film. Bo Burroughs plays Neil. He can be seen in films such as All About The Money. The woman with the two men is called Snack. She is portrayed by Jamie Bernadette. Jamie has garnered a lot of praise for some of her earlier horror film work, which includes 4/20 Massacre, The Furnace and I Spit On Your Grave: Déjà vu. She has also guest starred on such shows as Midnight, Texas and NCIS: New Orleans. Jamie was also one of the producers for the film.
Bobby Slaski, who I mentioned earlier, has been seen in several film shorts released in the last year or so.
As the film moves forward, the story unfolds as to what really happened to Lulu. And why the men and the woman want her. Apparently they will stop at nothing to get Lulu back.
Chad is shown to be a pervert who might have a special interest in Lulu. And Neil and Snack are both sexual deviants and sadistic murderers.
What happens during the rest of the film is a game of murder and mayhem with Neil and Snack with Chad as a reluctant player. And the drive for survival by Lulu and Dylan.
During the course of the film Dylan talks about his daughter Sofia and her zombie apocalypse survival kit. That element plays into the latter part of the film. There is a flashback scene near the end of the film that shows Sofia and her mother Nadine. Playing Nadine is Detra Hicks. Her previous roles include playing a detective in Shadows of the Dead. And Sofia is played by Skylar Dominque who also has been in several film shorts in the last couple of years.
Sean Cain was one of the producers for the film. He was also the director of the film and co-writer of the script. His previous work includes the horror films The Last House, Naked Beneath Water and the comedy action film Terror Birds. The other co-writer of the script is Wes Laurie. He wrote the script for The Last House and other films such as the thriller American Romance.
Another producer on the film was Linda Slade, whose acting roles includes guesting on Call 911 and Heroes along with roles in films such as Hollywood Confidential. In the executive producer slots were Erick Feigin and Jessie Hales, both of whom have worked on horror films. Jessie is also in a short scene at the end of the film
Eric A. Wahl was the cinematographer. His previous work include the films Angels Apocalypse and Deadliest Prey.
Dead By Dawn was filmed at Pine Mountain Club and in West Hollywood. Production companies involved were Silver Spider Investments, Velvet Hammer Films and Uncork'd Entertainment. The film is being distributed by Uncork'd Entertainment. It is rated for Young Adult or older. And it has a runtime of one hour twenty-five minutes.
The acting was well done. Burroughs seemed definitely off kilter as Neil and Muskatell seemed very uncomfortable as the bumbling Chad. Bernadette did a good job as Snack, who might just as easily slit a throat as to have hot, violent sex. Watson's performance had him both brave and afraid of what was happening. And Mitchell as Lulu, did well with her role. She seemed so fragile and broken, yet so determined to stay alive.
Dead By Dawn was an interesting film. There was a lot of violence but not a lot of gore. It seemed to be more of a home invasion thriller than a straight horror film. The cinematography seemed pretty crisp. The editing was fairly decent with no awkward scene splices. I did feel that there was a bit of a gap in the story line from where Lulu left in the ride car and when she showed up at Dylan's cabin. A bit of it was explained later on, but I felt that aspect of the film could have been fleshed out a little more.
Overall, I liked Dead By Dawn and would recommend it if you like home invasion thrillers.
Dead By Dawn is available on most streaming services and selected physical film outlets.
The official web page for the film is https://www.uncorkedentertainment.com/film/dead-by-dawn/?fbclid=IwAR3nClTU84JbjoiBrZVjdyHrH3B0OrWBmSQneCD4bXIUeD6TBML8-6tzOlY . And there is also a film page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deadbydawnmovie/
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© 2020 Bruce E Von Stiers