Dead Before Dawn 3D (2012)

Dead Before Dawn 3D is a Canadian horror comedy that has the fun premise and the required enthusiasm of a, potentially, very entertainingly bonkers film, but the ingredients, sadly, just don’t add up to anything approaching the promise.

In the very first scene of the movie we learn that Casper; our protagonist, lost his Father in a random mishap at his Grandfathers oddity emporium, The Occult Barn. It was something that scarred Casper on an emotional level and although he’s now at College, with a roll-call of misfit friends that reads like a Breakfast Club reunion (and that would never, ever share each others company in real life), he’s still a simpering, nervous art nerd that pines over a pretty, unavailable girl.

One day, his Grandfather (Christopher Lloyd, lowering himself considerably), requires him to look after the store and with some emotional manipulation from Mum, Casper accepts. Little does he know that his lady-crush is obsessed with the occult and chooses that very afternoon to frequent The Occult Barn. Events also inexplicably conspire to see fit that Casper’s entire friendship group are also present when the very same sinister looking artifact he’s been told to stay away from smashes and causes mayhem.

Accidentally smashing the artifact releases a curse that enables the group to jokingly create their own misery. They decide that making eye contact with anyone beyond 10pm will lead them to commit suicide and then come back as a zombie-demon that infects others via love bites. Our bumbling heroes then discover that their joke is a reality as the whole town becomes ‘zemon’-fodder and they have to fight to stay alive long enough to reverse the curse.

I realise that in a film, particularly a comedy, not everything has to make sense and as reasonable viewers we’re supposed to let things go in order to glean enjoyment from the proceedings, but Dead Before Dawn‘s hamfisted exposition is so frustratingly pedestrian that it all feels cloyingly familiar. Almost like an extended episode of Goosebumps with a generous dose of  ’adult humour’, events play out in the most predictable of ways before the inevitably neat saccharine sweet conclusion.

It’s not all a dead loss though, mercifully. The cast, despite looking like your average, but less attractive, teen soap roster, rally through with a coach-load of energy and passion and it’s almost enough to distract from the sub-par script and laughable 3D effects. It’s also nice to see Christopher Lloyd, however briefly, although his performance is much like the rest of the film in that it provides a sense of deja vu.

As the lead, Devon Bostick is actually rather awkwardly charismatic and is a talented comedic actor, but  it feels a little like he’s reliant on recycling his Diary Of A Wimpy Kid schtick. There are a couple of other familiar faces, like Tucker And Dale Vs Evil‘s Brandon Jay McLaren and Last House On The Left‘s Martha McIsaac but for the most part you’ll find yourself distracted by suspending your disbelief long enough in order to buy most of them as College-aged students.

Although there are a handful of lines that raised a smirk, and enough enthusiasm to just about keep things afloat, there’s just no getting around the fact that Dead Before Dawn just isn’t a very good film. Horror comedies are incredibly difficult to nail and with the bar having been raised higher in recent years, Dead Before Dawn will just be a little too dumb and juvenile for most modern palates.

It’s easy to trash a film that appears lazy, much harder to do when it feels like everyone involved really gave it their all, but Dead Before Dawn just didn’t offer enough to win me over. Sadly, and in spite of myself, Dead Before Dawn joins the pile of promising, but disappointing, horror-comedy hybrid fails. Avoid.

Rating: ★★½☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.