Damned by Dawn
This Australian horror film was heavily marketed toward fans of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series. Watching the film it is easy to believe that the director is a fan of Raimi. The camera work and cinematography is reminiscent of the first Evil Dead film. Likewise the demons bear a fleeting resemblance to the “deadites” of Raimi’s films. However the humor off the Evil Dead series is missing from Damned by Dawn. The movie is dark and humorless, but I think the film works better without humor. Paying homage to Sam Raimi is one thing but I think trying to make an unauthorized remake would be a massive fail.
The movie’s plot revolves around the legend of the banshee coming to claim the soul of the dying. Piercing and horrifying screams awaken a family, when the matriarch is on her death bed. The old lady warns then that they must not interfere when the banshee comes to claim her soul. Off course they do interfere. This leads the shrieking spectre to awaken the dead to hunt down the family one by one.
The film manages to be creepy and scary at times. It even made me jump early on, which doesn’t happen a lot. The outside scenes look reminiscent not only of Raimi’s early work but also remind me a bit of Hammer films. The scenes are mostly kept dark which serves to help the effects, keeping the undead onscreen but for the most part not easily seen. The creatures appear to be CG or possibly a mix of Cg and practical effects. The fog and darkness work to keep them obscured enough so that they do not look as fake as most CG effects.
Some of the gore effects would have been better served to have been obscured more. The film makers attempt to pile on the demon gore ala Raini, but it doesn’t work as well. I won’t say that all of Raimi’s gore looked realistic, but on Damned by Dawn it just really looks fake.
It’s a minor detail though and overall it is a very effective little horror film. The banshee’s screams are chilling, and watching it in the dark can lead to jumps and squirms. Damned by Dawn will not make you stop waiting for Evil Dead 4, like the DVD case promises, but it might help you hold out till then.