There's been no shortage of zombie films the past several years, and there appears to be no end to them in the near future. It's just an American way of life now. We all enjoy zombies. No matter if they walk slow or run fast, we have a fascination with the undead. And over the years we have had our fair share of horror, comedy, drama, romantic, and big blockbuster films that all contain zombies. It seems that at some point in time we will run out of ideas in the zombie genre, but it isn't today. For 'Dead Before Dawn' adds another limb to the ever growing body of the zombie genre.
The tagline for the film is "Half Zombie. Half Demon. All Zemon." That's right, we now have a hybrid of demons and zombies running around trying to ruin all of our lives. Director April Mullen and writer Tim Doiron change the zombie game a little bit here with how their ghoulish creatures attack and play into society. In fact, April is the first woman to film an entire movie in 3D, not to mention the youngest person to do so. She did this on a super low budget in 20 days in and around Canada, so kudos to her. I'd say this isn't really a horror film that will scare you, but rather a funny, over-the-top adventure film with zombie-demons in the background. Everything is silly and never takes itself seriously, much like Peter Jackson's 'Dead Alive'.
The film centers around the appropriately named character Casper (Devon Bostick, the kid from the 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' films), a college student with hipster friends who seem to have a jolly good time. Casper's grandfather Horus (the incredible Christopher Lloyd), owns a bizzare shop called the Occult Barn, where they sell relics and other beyond our realm artifacts. Casper is afraid of this store, due to an unfortunate accident that happened years ago, but is forced to work for a night when his grandfather is off accepting an award.
To impress his friends and crush Charlotte (Martha MacIsaac, famous for her role in 'Superbad'), he shows them an ancient skull relic that his grandfather specifically told him not to touch. Well they touch it, it falls, it breaks, and an evil curse is set in motion, which seems to be a curse that the friends made up, trying to be funny when they were all standing around looking at the broken relic. So instead of these Zemons running after and biting you, these undead beings just have to look you in the eye, which will in turn make you kill yourself, come back as a Zemon, and chase people around to give them hickeys. And if the curse isn't lifted by the following morning, all Hell will reign forever.
Armed with a crossbow, a bat, a rolling pin, nunchucks, and a mop, the surviving group try to take out the Zemons, who tend to look like they're dancing to dubstep rather than running after you. It's not exactly a thrilling adventure, but rather a semi-fun outing that is so over-the-top that all you can do is laugh and enjoy yourself.
Even the director and writer April and Tim seem to have fun, as they are actually in the film as well. And these Zemons just don't amble about, they drive cars fairly well, can handle a shotgun, and do other activities that will make you question your sanity. Lloyd is my favorite part of the film as he pulls his Doc Brown character out quite a bit, but unless you're with friends after midnight, and under the influence, this movie won't satisfy your appetite gore or scares.
'Dead Before Dawn' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The detail is very sharp here with some great closeups that define the wrinkles, make up effects, and individual hairs on the actors. There is also some great depth to this picture as well in the wide exterior shots of the college campus. However, there is one scene towards the beginning where everything crashes and burns for a minute or so. Not sure what happened here, but things go blurry, fuzzy, and the color is completely off. But it fixes itself very quickly and is never heard from again. I guess they didn't have time to fix this issue or the money.
Other than that, the colors are vibrant and well saturated and balanced. The greens, blues, and reds look crisp and clear and pop right off the screen. The blacks are deep and inky and the flesh tones are natural and smooth. There was some minor motion blur, but no compression errors to mention here. Aside from that early disaster, this is a great video presentation, especially considering the cheap budget. This is not the 3D version.
This release comes with a decent lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and sounds good. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. Although it seems a little too loud here and there, especially when people are screaming front and center. The score is the real shining aspect, with its cheesy yet over-the-top score, it adds a whole lot to the feel of this ridiculous yet fun movie.
There are tons of Zemons in the film, but the surrounds don't put out too much noise with surrounding hordes or zombie growls as much as I'd like to hear. There's a little bit of directionality from time to time, which is nice, but not where it should be for this type of movie. The bass comes through a little bit, but again, it could be better. That's the gist of this audio presentation. It does an okay job, but it's not where it should be.
'Dead Before Dawn' is a fun comedy-adventure film with a horror aspect to it. It's silly, over-the-top, and entertaining. The cast and crew had one hell of a fun time making the film and you can tell with some of the decent extras on this. The video looks good, with the exception of that one moment, and the audio could have been a little better. But this a decent addition to the whole zombie genre and worth at least one look, so I say Rent before purchasing.