Saturday, June 23, 2012

Few Will Wake After the Dawn: A Movie Review

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*here be major spoilers.

**full disclosure: an online screening of this film was provided by Midnight Releasing.

Director: Mitchel A. Jones.

Writers: Mitchel A. Jones and Nicole Kruex.

Cast: Nicole Kruex, Tommy Propson and Aaron Courteau.

The post-apocalyptic genre is rife with tales of doom and the end of times. From The Road Warrior to Denzel Washington's Book of Eli, there are many dangerous roads to be travelled. After the Dawn enters this genre with a small tale of chemical warfare and families torn apart. This world is also in ruins and the protagonist Cassie must discover what she has lost. In the end, After the Dawn creates an exciting post-apocalyptic world that few will forget.

This film focuses primarily on Cassie (Nicole Kriex). She is much like the female equivalent of Neville from Omega Man and I Am Legend. One of few survivors, Cassie does her best to outrun hordes of murderous people while trying to simply feed herself. She has already lost her family and death looms on every corner. Along the way, Cassie meets Jake, another survivor. Jake is mute in the beginning, but slowly he opens up to talk of his own horrors. It seems that Cassie and Jake have a lot in common and his appearance is not just a coincidence.

At this point, the spoilers would begin and this reviewer would recommend that fans of post-apocalyptic fiction stop reading here and purchase the film instead. Otherwise, one of the late character reveals will not be a surprise.

That character is the young Jake. Who is Jake really? Jake's purpose is to act as a messenger of grief. Cassie has lost someone and Jake helps her remember who that is. Some might think that Jake is Cassie's son and this is one possible interpretation of this character. However, this film critic believes that the younger Jake is more of a metaphor. He represents all that Cassie has lost after the outbreak of a dangerous chemical agent (bio-terrorism). Jake is one part of family that Cassie will never have. She has lost the potential to have a son when her fiancee comes home with anger and rage after being exposed to the toxin.

After the Dawn is a story of confronting grief and loss. The final few scenes show this best as Cassie sees through the illusion she has cast upon herself. She has not been travelling with a young kid. She has been travelling alone. It is denial that keeps the illusion in place. And, the characters seen in the final few moments are beckoning her to deal with her loss. They also encourage her to see reality as it is before it is too late.

This film's reality is one of excellence. This film offers some compelling elements including a solid soundtrack, decent acting, and an open ending. The music is sparse in places. But, when it is present, the music amplifies scenes or it changes the tone of the film. The music is often lively when it is there. The acting is well done and Nicole Kruex portrays a believable survivor on the verge of madness. The supporting cast is believable also as seen in the many flashbacks. Finally, the ending is really open to interpretation. The interpretation offered here is only one of several possibilities with the finale truly interesting.

That open ending might create for some confusion and the film's limited budget is not able to create an elaborate visual sphere. Some might shake their head during Act III as Cassie transforms from survivor into someone more vulnerable. Others, might search for answers. Questions will certainly remain at the end of the film. As well, this is indie filmmaking and the use of large groups of extras is relegated to the final scene. The film is mostly focused on two characters: Cassie and Jake. The cast is made of only a few characters. Mitchel A. Jones keeps the view diverse with many alternating camera angles and techniques. Yet, the production quality is only average. Some shots are overly light and others are not dark enough. The post-apocalyptic mood can only be enhanced so far, which is a minor detriment to the film. Overall, the positive elements far outweigh the few negatives mentioned here.

After the Dawn is and exciting ride through paranoia and a world in chaos. Cassie is a believable survivor and fans of the post-apocalyptic style of filmmaking will find a quality picture here. After the Dawn asks questions and the open ending will keep many thinking of this film long after the credits roll. And once they roll, After the Dawn might tempt you back to watch again!

Overall: 8 out of 10 (as compared to others at this budgetary level, good acting, an interesting story, excellent use of flashbacks, a converging of two stories in the finale, complex).

*formerly called Discursion.

*releasing on DVD September 25th through Midnight Releasing.

The film's fan page is here:

After the Dawn on Facebook

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