From the outset, Dawn of the Beast sets itself up as a “cabin in the woods” horror movie. But that also includes the usual trappings, such as really bad choices early on that will cause a good amount of eye rolling. There are some good scares and tense moments peppered throughout. Even if the film struggles to make us care about any of the characters.
A couple enjoying a quiet night alone in the woods are interrupted by strange sounds and they meet their end at the hands of something. We soon start to follow a group of students as they venture into the very same woods from the beginning. The reason for their visit? Since the class is cryptozoology, they are there to study Sasquatch. As time goes on, it becomes clear that Bigfoot isn’t the only cryptid in the woods.
A majority of the characters aren’t all that likable, it’s more about how they’re written than how they are acted. The acting as a whole is serviceable even if forgettable. The only person that leaves a lasting impression is Chris Cimperman as Jake, the human puppy that has no idea whats going on. He is able to add a bit of goofy charm to the part without being over the top. Everyone else suffers from stiff and clichéd writing. Fortunately, besides the aforementioned bad choices, none of the script or acting is downright bad.
Dawn of the Beast‘s stronger moments come with subtle details and scares. With faces and glowing eyes in the background. Though the usual horror fashion, these moments are accompanied with a loud audio queue. I think these would be even stronger scenes if the filmmaker didn’t try so hard to make you notice whats in the background. Of course, I am one for subtly in horror. I want to question what I think I might have seen. To the point of wanting to rewind it just to check. There are times where this movie almost gets to that point.
The sound is another area that isn’t awful but does suffer. The soundtrack is actually pretty enjoyable, and dialog is clear and even. The problem comes from the background noise and sound design. Its inconsistent at best and annoying at worst. The audio queues that go with the jump scares can end up being far louder then the rest of the film. To the point of startling my dog, who normally only cares if I leave the room or has snacks. And because of this, I have to keep my hand on the volume in order to continuously control what I could hear.
Dawn of the Beast actually surprised me. While it didn’t stray too far from the “monster in the woods with dumb people” formula, it did have some good ideas. If only it would have embraced those ideas and written stronger characters, this could have easily become a modern cult classic. But it stumbles more often than not. When all is said and done, you won’t be mad just disappointed.
5 out of 10