From the film’s IMDB.com citation:
“A couple spend eternity in a castle until their reality starts to shift, as the unknown moves into their lives.”
A number of years back, I was invited by a distributor to screen and review a film about a very popular pin-up girl from the 1950’s.
What the producer had done was creative: he had paid a screenwriter to craft a loose story about the woman’s life, bringing to life the odd assortment of irregulars she had surrounded herself with during a certain period of her days. While a clever mechanism, the tale suffered – so far as I see it – from the fact that it really had no true purpose: instead, it was just a mishmash peeling back the layers of these weird hangers-on, and the film moved from one to the next with no rhyme nor reason.
When my review wasn’t flattering (extremely low production quality and the lack of any real cohesiveness made for a decidedly awful 90 minutes), the producer actually reached out to me, asking me to remove my comments from all of the places I (at that time) posted reviews. (FYI: mine wasn’t the only negative assessment, so I’m thinking this guy was really busy!) When I asked why I would do that, his logic was this: “My film was intended only for fans of [pin-up queen], which you clearly aren’t, so you don’t understand it.”
In some ways, his perspective speaks to my take on Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes.
Films like it – in my humble opinion – feel as if they were conceived and produced for one audience almost exclusively … and this would be the kind of person who watches a feature solely for the purpose of ascribing it some kind of scholarly meaning. It’s an exercise for which ‘the right mind’ reaches some inspired conclusion. Then, these viewers get together to discuss the highs and lows of their impressions, rather than discuss the actual motion picture itself. Think of it like a filmgoers’ ‘book club,’ and you get the idea.
But because I’ve invested the time with it, I will say that its performances are solid. There are a few roles that end up being a bit stereotypical – the cheating man scenario has been played out to death in film long ago – and, still, this otherworldly element that suggests ‘all is being observed from afar’ gives it just enough artistic elegance to keep my attention. The shifting narrative doesn’t draw me in the way I suspect was anticipated, but – once the credits roll – it is what it is. It hints at some Gothic sensibilities in a creative way – I’ve also read that it’s meant to be an affectionate nod to European cinema of the 1960’s and 1970’s … in which case the folks who might truly appreciate it are going to make up a small subset of the moviegoing crowd.
Either you like this stylish commentary, or you don’t.
Either way, it’s still not traditional Horror. Like art films do, it absconds the Horror elements to reel you in.
Lastly, I’d be remiss in my duties if I failed to point out that the film has been the recipient of some praise on the film festival circuit. IMDB.com denotes that – to date – it has received an incredible nine different wins (along with a few other additional nominations). I don’t find this surprising in the slightest as Dawn Breaks is exactly the kind of exercise film festivals love to showcase. It definitely gives that crowd plenty to discuss.
Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes (2021) was produced by Crossbones GmbH and Sylenteye Films. From what I’ve read, the film is available on all major VOD platforms beginning June 24.
Like life, Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes (2021) is but isn’t a Horror film. More than anything, it’s an artistic commentary on the life of the artistic – meaning it’s a bit self-indulgent in ways that mostly film aficionados, cinema intellectuals, and academics truly appreciate but the masses-at-large end up feeling kinda/sorta lost in its narrative trickery. If you want to enjoy a bit of reflection on the process of storytelling, this one’s for you; if you’re looking for authentic Horror without a trippy perspective, you won’t find it here. Some nice ideas, true … but nice ideas don’t always translate to film efficiently.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Sapkar Public Relations provided me with complimentary screening access to Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes (2021) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.