Dead Before Dawn is a Canadian Action/Comedy/Horror film from 2012. Written by Tim Doiron and directed by April Mullen, it’s the first Canadian live action, steroscopic 3D picture. What grabbed my attention on this film was that it has Christopher Lloyd, who’s campy over the top style always pleases. Further more this film sports, Zemons, Zombie Demons. That has my kinda style written all over it. Unfortunately I didn’t have the 3D version for this review.
The film opens with a young boy in a magical oddities shop. The boy notices, then goes to play with a Urn, but is stopped by his father. The father warns of the Urns power, only to be fall said power. Casper Galloway (Devon Bostick) wakes up from the opening dream sequence to a phone call from his grandfather Horus Galloway (Christopher Lloyd), who has just won an a lifetime achievement award and needs Casper to watch the shop. Casper tries to lie his way out of it by claiming he has football practice.Later at college he starts to feel guilty and decides to watch his grandfathers shop. We are also introduced to Caspers friends and love interest. Charlotte Baker (Martha Macisaac). At the magic shop Horus warns to not disturb the Urn topped with a skull. As it contains a powerful spirit imprisoned by Caspers great grandfather and will curse any who free it. Horus then leaves for the award ceremony, leaving Casper in charge. Charlotte stops by the shop and Casper tries to impress her, but is interrupted by his friends. One thing leads to another and the urn is broken. Caspers friends, then doesn’t believe of the danger and while mocking Casper invent their own curse. While Casper prepares for the curse his friends continue on with their lives. Casper makes eye contact with his mother after believing the curse to be a dud. But soon the curse start to take effect, causing Becky Fords (April Mullen) boyfriend to kill himself a turn into a Zemon as well as the death and changes of people at the football game who made eye contact with the cursed party. Casper flees his Zemon mother only to see her get hit by a car. At the scene of the accident ,the men who hit his mother fall victim to his curse. Casper joins up with Becky and the two make their way to the carnage that is the football game as all the Zemons begin to wake up. The group flees the oddity shop for refuge from the Zemons after arming themselves. Before they arrive Horus returns to the shop to place his trophy and notices the damaged urn. After telling them of the curses rules grandpa Horus falls victim to the curse. Unfortunately he isn’t able to tell them how to reverse it. The group is forced to gather ingredients to recreate the original spell that trapped the spirit and stop the curse before sunrise or else be cursed for all time.
Christopher Lloyd does a great job in this film. But then again, I’ve never been disappointed by Judge Doom. While it was a little out of place I got a huge kick out him proclaiming “Great scott!”. I wish his role had been bigger since it was more a cameo and I couldn’t help but feel a little mislead by his getting third billing.
Stereotypes run ram-pit in this film. So much so that it actually starts to distract from the film. It forced me into a strange disconnected state where I actually didn’t fell invested in the characters when they died. but when they weren’t being down right annoying they used them in an entertaining manner.
I really enjoyed the Zemon effects. The whole visual look of the Zemons was fun and reminded me of heavily of zombie films while still having their own distinct feel. The other effects were very low end but still managed to fit the feel of the film. So this film captures the things I love most in a B-movie.
I was, however annoyed with the poor references to other films. Such as the bees scene which reeks of The Wicker Man. I love it when films reference one another, when done well. Dead Before Dawn tries to push it over into parody at times and does a simply awful job at it.
Final thoughts? Well its a fun film but not very scary and the endings “twist” was one of the most cliche things. However past the flaws deep down, this is a pretty good movie. More funny than scary, the cast is all having a great time. Full of entertaining moments it really doesn’t let up till the end. April Mullen did a great job both behind the camera as well as in front of it, 7/10.