Having become unemployed Alex (Dominic Brunt) is also dealing with his marriage to Meg (Joanne Mitchell) having fallen to bits. In a hope of salvaging what they had for the sake of their family the estranged couple head to a remote cottage in the woods whilst the children stay with Meg's mother. But the day isn't over before they find themselves arguing over what they want and feelings of having to settle for less if they stayed together. But personal issues end up the least of their issues when they find themselves facing zombies whilst stuck in the middle of nowhere.
I feel for Dominic Brunt as the guy obviously knows his horror movies, just watch his directing debut "Before Dawn" and see all the familiar horror touches he places in there such as the poorly parked car which they come across and can't see that it has blood all over the bonnet. But Brunt is for many best known as the amiable Paddy Kirk in "Emmerdale" and watching him play any other sort of character just doesn't feel right. And look I stopped watching "Emmerdale" a while back and I still think of Brunt as Paddy and as such watching him play Alex it is a huge obstacle to get over.
But Dominic Brunt's issues with being too recognizable as Paddy are not the only issue with "Before Dawn" and sadly budget limitations also causes issues. There is no getting away from many of the scenes feeling unfinished and rushed as those involved were unable to spend time perfecting the scene, doing multiple takes to get it right and seeming to have to go with the first take. I don't know whether that is what happened but that is most definitely what it feels like and as such frequently feels not quite there.
The other thing about "Before Dawn" is that whilst it is a zombie movie, a British one at that, it is more than that because it is about Alex. It starts about him and his feelings when it comes to Meg moving on from him as he is left behind feeling a loser and there is also the way Meg's mum treats him with a lack of respect. We see how he wants to save the marriage and loves Meg so much, frustrated by her work and her constant use of her mobile. And this is built on when in the remote cottage something happens which highlights how much he loves Meg and what he will do for her. Yet whilst this is going on we learn things about his past and his mistakes when it comes to their marriage. If you can get past your expectations of what a zombie movie should be and that low budget feel there is quite an intimate side to "Before Dawn".
As to those expectations of what a zombie movie should be well in truth you need to make your way through a good half a movie of build up before things really start to kick off with a suggestively violent scene in the cottage's garage. The thing is that much of it doesn't feel like it is typical zombie and seems to be going for a more intimate, one on one style of horror rather than the cliche aspects you usually get with zombie movies. It is again that once you get past your expectations the visual aspects of the horror in "Before Dawn" are first rate and I reckon a big chunk of the budget must have gone on the make-up.
What this all boils down to is that if you saw "Before Dawn" and thought you would watch it because you like zombie movies then just be warned it isn't just a typical zombie movie and wants to give you part character study as well as we have a man and his love for his wife. In fairness it is movie with a lot of issues but also ones which if you look past the budgetary issues has some good ideas which are what keep you watching more than anything else as it grows on you.
Tags: Zombie Movies