Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Childen of a Darker Dawn

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Children of a Darker Dawn
Written, produced, directed and edited by Jason Figgis
October Eleven Pictures / Pop Twist Entertainment / A Man in Green Tub Productions
106 minutes, 2012 / 2013

In our mediated culture, we have bared lots of cinematic diseases that cause the apocalypse of modern civilization, but most of them tend to be followed by zombies. For this film, it’s a different, possibly more realistic, and dreadfully dower future.

Set in Ireland, a new viral plague has hit the world where adults are susceptible. They start by becoming irrational and psychotic, or sometimes it’s like a form of violent Alzheimer’s. Soon, organs shut down, and they die. The children are left over to fend for themselves in this new humanity.

Fran (Emily Forster) and Evie (Catherine Wrigglesworth)
The main focus of the story, taking place nine months later, is two siblings, and their journey. There’s the older sister, Evie (Catherine Wrigglesworth), who is in her mid-late teens, and her younger ‘tween sister, Fran (Emily Forster). After the death of their parents, they take off on foot, keeping themselves company and reading from The Railway Children to try to obtain some semblance of home / normality, such as it is.

Before long, they run into a bunch of other teens, who do not treat them well; the viewer also gets to know them as well. One of the more interesting aspects of the film is the flashbacks of many of the major characters and the moments of their parents’ decay to keep us up on their motivations in the present.

It’s a very smart story, reminding me of a similar themed, bleak book I had finished reading recently(without implying they copy each other, because they don’t) called PostApoc, by Canadian Liz Worth. The reason I bring it up is because I believe that the topic is triggered by two factors: one is the absolute insane rise to power of genetic mutations with companies like Monsanto messing around with genes of plants and arguably animals, and also said zombie apocalypse movies and television shows that may make one think about “what would happen in the real world if…”

This film never shies away from the experience, nor takes the easy road from beginning to end, showing a new world order in a similar way that the British film Threads did in 1984 (ahead of its time, for sure), in the latter case being the struggle in post-nuclear Sheffield. If you’re looking for humor, you’ve come in the wrong direction.

For this film, there are hierarchies and cliques of teens that would make Mean Girls (2004) look like a support group, and even a collective of cannibal kids trying to survive, posing both the philosophical and pragmatic question of what does one do for food after all the packaged and canned foodstuff is gone in a post-farm-knowledgeable society?

Beautifully shot, mostly in what appears to be abandoned homes, the color saturation is drained, giving it a gray tone, and the flashbacks are even barer, with a sepia hue that keeps just a bit of color left.

The acting is all top notch, especially Forster as the volatile Fran. She’s had just enough of the quibbling, struggling and unnecessary pissing contests. She just wants to go back to the way things were, while riddled with nightmares about her parents. But part of her anger is knowing that is not possible.

Is this film right for you? Well, it does have its problems and questions, as well. For example, what I kept wondering through the whole film is: a lot of these characters appear to be in their late teens, or possibly early 20s. Does that mean the plague has passed, or at some point will all these people die when they reach a certain, unspecified age? It’s not explained, but I’m guessing that is in part because none of the characters know.

The problem for me is that there is just too much damn repetitive talking that doesn’t progress the story, which takes the power out of the events. If the dialog was tightened up, this could have been a good 80 minute film, but they just keep on. For example, when the sisters walk into the headquarters of the mean teen group, the conversation that goes around carries on much longer than necessary.

The two extras are the trailer and a short about the making of the music video connected to the film which leads to said video. By the way, here’s a little secret you may not realize: if there is no dialog in a trailer, odds are they’re trying to hide that it’s not in American English; it’s a trick going back to the 1960s, at least. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just a thing. Oh, and the company that made this is October Eleven Pictures, which is the date when Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army killed 3,500 in the Irish town of Wexford in 1649.

This is a powerful film, and it the lack of having a direction in which to live by for the characters actually feels accurate in the situation. It’s definitely a view of a darker dawn, and if you’re up for that, this could be your – er – meat.

1 comment:

  1. thanks! came here from the millionth image search for the Threads film. I am a fan of it! Bookmarked entry, seems interesting! Cheers!