Monday, February 10, 2014

Dead Before Dawn (2012) Don't Play With Curses

So when I watched The Bell Witch Haunting on a whim, I insisted that I could no longer trust my whims.

But then I watched Dead Before Dawn on a whim, and well...I feel a little more trust in my whims again.

Now, I know that Dead Before Dawn wasn't received with open arms like other horror comedies.  Some liked it, many didn't.  But they're not writing this review...I am, and I declare that I found it to be snappy, fast-paced, fun, and often hilarious.  I also realize that horror comedies can be really hit or miss.  Three of my favorite movies, horror or otherwise, lean heavily towards comedy:  Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.  They set the bar really high.  There's dozens more that can't match the perfect blend of frights and follies, but every so often, you run across a movie that still does a great job in its attempt.

Written by Tim Doiron and directed by April Mullen, the movie opens with a young boy witnessing his father being possessed by a demon in a store full of occult items.  Later in life, that same boy, Casper Galloway (Devon Bostick of Diary of a Wimpy Kid) is a jumpy but quick-witted young man who has a close circle of eccentric friends and a crush on a popular girl, Charlotte (Martha McIsaac).  When Casper's grandfather, Horus (Christopher Lloyd), wins a lifetime achievement award from occult enthusiasts, he recruits Casper to watch the store.  Of course, Casper is hesitant, but does out of respect for his grandfather.  When his friends come to visit him, an urn containing a malevolent spirit is broken.  Casper freaks out, but the others joke about a "curse," rattling off ideas of what the curse might be.  Turns out that what they say comes to pass:  people turn into zombie/demon hybrids called "zemons" when they make eye contact with any of the gang.  Also, oddly enough, if a person french-kisses a zemon, the zemon will become their slave.  Oh,  yes, and they have to reverse the curse before dawn or they become zemons as well.

As you might guess, the night goes south from there. 

It doesn't take long for the group to figure out that the curse is real, but not before there is carnage and confusion.  From there, it becomes a race against time to reverse what's happened before the sun rises.

I found Dead Before Dawn to be snappy with quick moments of hilarity and a likable cast of characters.  Lloyd even manages to sneak in a "Great Scott!" for all you Back To The Future fans.  Bostick is energetic and jumpy as Casper, and it I could see where that might grind on people after a while.  Still, his reactions are often funny and in some cases, genuine.  The rest of the cast seems to be having a great time making the movie, and you'll catch a couple interesting cameos by Kevin McDonald of Kids In The Hall and Boyd Banks of the Dawn of the Dead remake.

The movie was fun in my eyes, and went a long way to restore my faith in my "oh-let-me-take-a-look-at-this-film" whims.  The script by Doiron, who plays mug-obsessed Seth, and the direction by Mullen, who plays Casper's best friend and photographer Becky, are very key aspects in lending the film its youthful energy.

Now, for your viewing enjoyment, here's the trailer:

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