The past few years have been nothing short of amazing in terms of quality indie horror offerings. I'll go on record as saying that independent films are doing more now for the horror genre than at any other time. Pushing traditional boundaries and coming up with new and inventive ways to shock and terrify us, has been a defining characteristic. Dawning is no exception and this film will stay with you long after the credits roll. Thank yous to our friends Mike and Chris over at All Things Horror for bringing this film to our attention.
A brother and sister driving out to a cabin in the woods for a family reunion of sorts almost has their trek derailed by a man who runs out in front of their car. After safely arriving at their destination and the appropriate familial greetings take place, we learn that brother and sister had reservations about this get together and weren't quite sure how the time spent would play out. From the get-go, its apparent that the brother and sister aren't very close with their father and despite his best efforts, he has never been able to get the kids to embrace their stepmother. A hopeful night around the campfire immediately takes a turn for the worse when the family dog goes missing. Searching for the canine, they find it injured in the bushes, the victim of a life threatening wound. Far enough away from civilization, they decide to put the dog down. Its after this point that things begin to unravel for our family.
After the hysterics caused by what transpired die down, it appears that their time away will get back on track until an injured man stumbles through the door of their home. The family still reeling from what took place moments before, the brother grabs his father's rifle but not before the intruder comes to and takes it away from him. Now armed with the weapon, he locks up the house and tells the family that something outside is after him and this something also killed his girlfriend. They try and use the phone but only static and high pitch noises come through which unsettles the armed intruder even more. Thumps can be heard on the rooftop and its at this point your mind starts running wildly as to what their unseen stalker could be. Its something that ways heavily as the movie progresses, driving this movie watcher to near madness by film's end.
The family begins to question the sanity of their newest resident with the father and son bickering back and forth. The son believes the man's claims while the father thinks he is a total nut job. Tensions mount as they go back and forth about the next course of action. Things start to unravel even further between the family members when old wounds become exposed and anger surfaces. Things eventually cool and a coordinated effort allows for the father and son to subdue the intruder, disarm, and tie him down. The father then goes out front to his truck to call for help using the CB inside but it emits the same sounds as the phone and doesn't work. He then exits the vehicle when he hears noises in the surrounding woods. Armed with a pistol, he searches for the source but becomes distracted by something lurking in the woods. The stepmother wanders out into the woods to find him and when she doesn't come back, the son ventures out. He comes upon his father and stepmother, bearing witness to the true horror that lies within.
I'm not going to go into the specifics of the ending because to do so, would ruin your own eventual movie watching experience (and trust me, you need to see this). What I can say, is that there is a lack of a clear resolution. Everything is thrown out the window in favor of coming up with your own. For some, this can be unnerving but for me, it added an extremely engrossing aspect to the film. I found myself studying it, frame by frame searching for some sort of clue as to what was stalking these good, albeit flawed people. For me, the unseen evil ultimately resided in the woods. It brought out the worst in our onscreeen characters and it also got them to face what they had altogether thought was buried. However, your interpretation may vary.
This is by far one of the most terrifying movies I've ever seen and a true honest to goodness, no frills horror film. Great acting, an unsettling soundtrack, a doomed from the start atmosphere and expert pacing, makes Dawning a truly incredible achievement.
For more information regarding the film, clicky here.
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