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Dawn (2003)

DVD Cover (Tempe Entertainment)
Genres:
Childhood Drama, Family Drama, Horror, Vampire Film
Director:
Jay Reel Jay Reel
Starring:
Ray Boucher Ray Boucher
Kacie Young Kacie Young
Mindy Raymond Mindy Raymond
Jay Reel Jay Reel
Tom Bozeman Tom Bozeman

6.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: August 26, 2006
Ahh, the vampire film. It seems as though they've been around for almost as long as the legend itself, but ever since a little film known as Interview With The Vampire changed the way that we look at these creatures of the night, just about every low-budget director out there has made one or two films dealing with these bloodsuckers. Sadly, just like with the zombie subgenre, vampires haven't fared too well in the kingdom of low-budget flicks: most of them "suck", to be brutally honest. I can be slightly more forgiving with those zombie films since I'm a sucker for that particular breed of the undead, but vampires, well, let's just say that I'm not a huge fan of them. Therefore, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Dawn, but one thing made me want to check it out - that one thing being that the leading lady was nine years old. An interesting concept, and I'll be damned if it didn't work.

The story follows Dawn (Kacie Young), the aforementioned young girl, and her dad John (Ray Boucher) as they travel around the country. Dawn, if you couldn't guess, is a vampire while her father is a normal human being. It turns out that John decided to shack up with a vampire, and although the mother (played by Mindy Raymond in the flashbacks) died while giving birth, the baby was healthy. Fast-forward to ten years later, and we find that John now centers his life around his vampiric daughter: they travel from town to town with Dawn feeding on the elderly and sick (those who would suffer the least), always staying one step ahead of those who might find out about Dawn's "disease". We also discover that all of the vampire myths (sunlight, religious icons, holy water, etc.) do not apply here - with the exception of drinking human blood and being quite strong, Dawn is your normal nine-year-old girl. The storyline kicks in when a psychic (director Jay Reel) who lost his mother to a vampire finds out about Dawn and decides to get a little vengeance for mommy dearest...

Before I say another word about this film, I should probably point out that this only fits into the horror genre on a technicality. While the storyline obviously deals with vampires and we do get to see a little bit of bloodshed, this one fits much more into the drama genre than anything else. The main emphasis of the storyline is the relationship between father and daughter, and although I'm sure that will turn some viewers away from this movie, I thought that it worked out infinitely better than I had anticipated. By the time we're nearing the end of the movie, we've grown to care about these two, and you truly want to see them get out of their eventual situation intact.

The main reason that this film works so well is that the two leading characters are quite convincing. Now, that's not to say that they're flawless actors, but they do manage to be appear perfectly natural in their roles. There are some scenes where it becomes pretty apparent that one or the other is merely reciting lines and not truly playing the character, but for the most part, they make the audience believe that they truly are a father-and-daughter team dealing with an unusual problem. As seen in some of the supplemental materials on the disc, Boucher and Young had a pretty good relationship with one another off-camera, and the chemistry between them definitely shows when they're in front of it.

I should also point out that yes, this is a low budget film, and as such, it does suffer from some of the stigmas normally associated with these types of releases. With the two main actors out of the equation, the acting abilities of just about everyone involved is mediocre at best. While the main emphasis is on Boucher and Young, there are a handful of people who show up to further the storyline from time to time, and with the sole exception of Mindy Raymond, everyone who didn't have a leading role (ie, Boucher and Young) probably shouldn't quit their day jobs. Most of these characters simply seemed to be reading the script out loud with no emotion whatsoever, and it's actually pretty painful to get through. Nobody really has enough time to hurt the movie as a whole, and I do understand that these scenes were needed, but some better casting decisions could have worked wonders.

Overall though, this one comes highly recommended for those of you who enjoy vampire films and want something new from the genre. Remember what Interview With The Vampire did for the vampire genre back in the mid-nineties? Had this film received more mainstream exposure, I truly believe that it would have done the same thing. 8/10.
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