GRIMMFEST 2019: Quiet Comes the Dawn – movie review

Quiet Comes the Dawn. Image credit: Courtesy of Grimmfest

I’ve been granted press accreditation for the 11th Grimmfest, the Manchester’s International Festival of Fantastic Film. So, I had the opportunity to watch and review a bunch of upcoming horror movies. This is my review of Quiet Comes the Dawn (Russia, Pavel Sidorov, horror; original title: Rassvet).

The directorial debut of Pavel Sidorov is an odd film, despite a rather conventional premise. Quiet Comes the Dawn follows Sveta (Alexandra Drozdova), a young woman who lost a brother in an accident and, because of that, she’s tormented by awful nightmares. In order to stop them, she goes to an institute of somnology – the scientific study of dreams – where she’s convinced by the doctors to partake in a “collective dream” experiment: the idea is to share realistic nightmares with other people (Kirill, Lilya, Anton and Nastya), so that they could help each other defeating their various fears. Something, however, goes horribly wrong: separating harsh reality from demons-filled nightmares might become impossible.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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Not having seen many horror films from Russia, I was pleasantly surprised by the production values. Apparently, Quiet Comes the Dawn was made for RUR70,000,000 (which equals to $1,082,550), but it looks like high-budgeted Hollywood movies, aside from a couple of bad CGI instances.

Quiet Comes the Dawn. Image credit, courtesy of Grimmfest
Quiet Comes The Dawn. Image credit: Courtesy of Grimmfest

This advantaged isn’t just used to make the film look neat and crisp, because Pavel Sidorov really put a ton of effort in the visual presentation of Quiet Comes the Dawn: the movie benefits from fantastic set design and a number of interesting and diverse location; the cinematography is outstanding in both establishment shots and more intimate contexts; the camera-work, hand-held for the most part, helps creating a constantly dreadful and uneasy atmosphere.

Very fast-paced and entertaining throughout, Quiet Comes the Dawn really manages to be creepy and unsettling from the minute it starts until the very last scene. As I said, though, it’s quite an odd horror film because its atmospheric impact is paired with an insane amount of horror clichés.

Especially the first act of the movie is a jump-scare fest where you can find every horror trope imaginable: from post-production scares to the crescendo violin, to the overabundance of repetitive dream-sequences, to the characters doing online research that acts as exposition for the audience.

The second half of the movie, however, embraces surrealism and nightmarish presentation in a similar manner as movies like Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) and Hausu (1977), both of which I adore. Here, Quiet Comes the Dawn becomes truly scary and mad, since the situation characters are thrusted in feels chaotic, lawless and just insane: this offers the filmmakers the creative freedom to intertwine spooky sequences with gory moments and surrealist eerie scenes, which results in a memorable ride.

Even though the overabundance of jump-scares and horror tropes make this film marketable for mainstream audiences, I find it to be very frustrating: Quiet Comes the Dawn would be an incredibly impactful and exhilarating movie without them, but their presence deflates the tension in many scenes and often turns terrifying imagery in nothing more than set-up for a conventional scare.

The other big issue with this film revolves around characterisation. While the acting is decent for the most part, the protagonists of this movie are very shallow and poorly developed, which makes everything that happens to them less impactful and, in the long run, very forgettable. This is a particularly severe flaw for the lead girl, whose grief and psyche aren’t fully delved into, when they should’ve provided a lot of intriguing elements to both story and her own character.

Quiet Comes The Dawn. Image credit, courtesy of Grimmfest
Quiet Comes the Dawn. Image credit: Courtesy of Grimmfest

On a side note, there are two quirky (or fun) things I noticed in the movie that won’t change my grade in a way or the other: the first one is the end credit song, which is probably one of the worst songs I listened to in my entire life. It made me laugh out loud. Secondly, every major character (both male and female) in the film is quite easy on the eye: the three lead girls are drop-dead gorgeous, and the two male leads are as handsome as they get.

Aside from my stupid comments about good-looking actors and awful final song, Quiet Comes the Dawn is a very entertaining, spooky and fast-paced movie. It’s got some major flaws that make it frustrating, since without them it would’ve been a fantastic film. However, I’m sure most horror fans who look for a scary, thrilling ride would enjoy it.

Quiet Comes the Dawn                                7/10

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