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March 2011

Damned By Dawn

cast: Renee Willner, Bridget Neval, Dawn Klingberg, Danny Alder, and Taryn Eva

director: Brett Anstey

81 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Momentum DVD Region 2

RATING: 5/10
review by Gary Couzens

Damned By Dawn

Claire (Renee Willner) and her boyfriend Paul (Danny Alder) are driving to the family home in the Australian outback, where Claire's grandmother (Dawn Klingberg) is on her deathbed. A violent thunderstorm is raging outside, and the family is woken by piercing shrieks, those of the legendary banshee who causes the dead to rise again...

Shot on location in mining town Ballarat, Damned By Dawn is a low-budget Australian horror film. Admittedly the legend of the banshee isn't that often used as the basis of a horror film, so it's a pity that the result plays out as sub-Evil Dead. The film was shot in HD which is so heavily graded that the result looks ugly, and certainly not film-like, and that's without the obviously CGI ghouls.

Characterisation is not much more than functional and the performances are the same. Having said that, Bridget Neval (as the banshee) certainly has a presence, dressed up in a bridal gown with bleeding eyes and her repeated and very loud screams. On the other hand, the sound design - in very immersive Dolby digital 5.1 - is more impressive and there are some suitably revolting gore and gunk effects.

Momentum's DVD is encoded for Region 2 only. It is in a ratio of 1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced. The soundtrack is Dolby digital 5.1 and subtitles for the hard-of-hearing are available. The disc begins with trailers for Skyline, Let The Right One In and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest.

DVD extras are a chatty commentary, the trailer, and a 55-minute 'making-of' documentary which is quite informative as to what is involved in low-budget filmmaking, and is in some ways more entertaining than the feature itself.



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