Monday, September 1, 2014

Dead Before Dawn 3D (Canada, 2012)

Plot: so, what do we got? The almost eternally slumming Christopher Lloyd — see Piranha 3D (2010 / trailer) &  Piranha 3DD (2013 / trailer) — doing his patented Doc Brown schtick as Horus Galloway, the owner of Occult Barn, who asks his milquetoast grandson Casper Galloway (Devon Bostick of The Hidden 3D [2011 / trailer]) to mind the store while he is away. Casper, out to impress a babe named Charlotte Baker (Martha MacIsaac of the extremely unnecessary Last House on the Left remake [2009 / trailer]) and "friends", drops an urn containing a demon spirit which, instead of being happy about being freed, curses the giggling group of disbelieving (much-too-old-for) high-school kids: as of 10 PM, anyone they have eye contact with will kill themselves and turn into a zombie and... Well, needless to say, long before dawn the whole town is walking dead. Can the young adults end the curse and save the world?

Trailers, how we hate them. You see one somewhere and think, "Wow! That looks like my kind of film!" and then you finally see the frigging movie and feel more disappointed than, dunno, the day you found out there really isn't a Santa Claus.
According to Bloody Disgusting, Dead Before Dawn 3D, directed by April Mullen of Niagara Falls, "the youngest and only woman ever to direct a film of this kind", is also "the first live-action, fully Canadian Stereoscopic 3D feature". We would hazard to guess that it is also the first and only zom-com to have been made at Niagara Falls, and while it is not the only zombie or zom-com film that we know of to have been made in Canada — Pontypool (2008 / trailer), a zombie film, and Fido (2006 / trailer), a zom-com, both come promptly to mind — we are fairly sure that it does lay claim to being the first Canadian zom-com that sucks.
OK, maybe it doesn't suck like Linda Lovelace or Little Oral Annie, but it does suck in a micro-penis kind of way: as a zombie film, it never scares and keeps the gore low, and as a comedy, the laughs are too few. It is mildly diverting at best, the chuckles and rare belly laugh — yes, it has some of both, but too few of either — over-shadowed by the all-too-regular groans. And while two or three characters do eventually become endearing — ebay-cup-dealer Seth Munday (played by scriptwriter Tim Doiron), semi-goth good girl babe with moxie Becky Fords (played by director April Mullen) and brainless cheerleader Lucy Winthrop (Brittany Allen), to be exact — most never transcend their stereotype and the movie on a whole never truly becomes fun to watch. True, it becomes a bit more bearable after the curse hits, but then stumbles in a big way at the resolution, ending not with a bang or a wimper but, as it started: predictably, and with a groaner.
Take away the demon bit, toss out the totally unnecessary 3D effects, and all that's left is a blood-lite "horror" comedy that not only suffers from too much contrivance and too many unconvincing stock characters — beware actor Brandon Jay McLaren (of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil [2010 / trailer]), lest you become doomed to always play the obligatory Afro-American/Canadian character, eternally out of place amongst a circle of lily-white middle-class stereotypes* — but that has, if you get down to it, been done way better before in much funnier films, both "big budget" (Zombieland [2009] and Warm Bodies [2013 / trailer]), low budget (Return of the Living Dead [1985 / trailer]), and indie (Dead & Breakfast [2004 / trailer] and Zombies of Mass Destruction [2009 / trailer]).
We came away from Dead Before Dawn 3D seriously regretting that we hadn't simply re-watched Dance of the Dead (2008 / trailer) instead — which is what you should do.

*A typecasting all the more glaring, actually, in the disappointing TV series Harper's Island (trailer), in which he is the only non-WASP amongst a huge gathering of the type of inbred white folks who not only don't usually know any Black people, but also find Asians and South Americans not proper as dinner guests. On Harper's Island, however, it must be said that the filmmakers at least not only kept him around longer than most minorities ever survive on-screen, but he developed into one of the most fully-rounded, believable and likeable of all the characters.

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