Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes

You don't have to get every reference to Euro cult cinema to pick up on this film’s vibes, but why wouldn’t you? Regardless, this horror movie wears its influences on its sleeve. That’s just part of its style, which is heavy and often effective. Atmosphere is everything in Kevin Kopacka’s Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes, which releases Friday on VOD.

A bickering couple are visiting the decrepit family manor house she inherited, despite the lateness of the hour. It is all because of Dieter’s obnoxious attitude. He refused to stop at a hotel to make some kind of point. Critics will probably try to hang the “toxic masculinity” label on him, but there is nothing manly about him. That will not stop him from trying to compensate, as when he becomes fascinated by a whip he finds in a trunk.

And then everything changes, in a big, landscape-altering
 kind of way, but without the gentle humor of an obvious but spoilery comparison. Also, maybe not everything changes. There is still something very wrong about the German chateau.

That would be the Gothic Herrenhaus Vogelsang, which is definitely a creepy setting. Indeed, everything about the look and design of
Dawn is quite masterful. Many are making the obvious comparison to Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani’s Giallo pastiches, like Amer and The Strange Color of Your Bodys' Tears, but Kopacka’s screenplay is much more narrative driven. Initially, that makes it more accessible, but it also causes greater frustration when it takes an arty detour into oblivion.

In any event, Luisa Taraz is a highly intriguing screen presence as Margot, the frustrated wife, or whoever she is. In fact, she might be even more interesting to watch after the big twist. Frederik von Luttichau also has some flamboyantly weird moments as Dieter, both before and after.

Unfortunately, Kopacka just can’t make his big game-changer pay-off to any degree like Shinichiro Ueda did in
One Cut of the Dead, just as a for instance. It looks cool enough to work for the first hour, but Dawn ends weakly. Mostly recommended for fans of Cattet & Forzani, Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes releases this Friday (6/24) on VOD.