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Before Dawn (2013)

Director: Dominic Brunt
Starring: Dominic Brunt, Joanne Mitchell, Eileen O'Brien, Nicky Evans
Not Rated 82 Minutes

In a last ditch attempt to mend their crumbling relationship, a married couple head off to a secluded countryside cottage. Husband Alex (director Dominic Brunt) has been out of work for a long time and has been hitting the bottle hard, while wife and breadwinner Meg (Joanne Mitchell) has thrown herself into her career, as well as the arms of her personal trainer. Alex is desperate to rekindle their love, while Meg seems to have moved on emotionally. The only thing holding the pair together are their children, who are staying with Meg's mother while the two go on vacation.

The trip starts well enough, but their problems soon begin to surface. In their isolation, there is nowhere to run, and nothing to distract themselves from the reality that their marriage is beyond repair. Their already bad situation takes a nightmarish turn the following morning, when Meg's morning run is interrupted by a hungry, and very fast moving, zombie.

BEFORE DAWN is a very intimate, very serious zombie film that rests on the relationship between Brunt and Mitchell, a real-life married couple whose natural chemistry imbues the film with an emotional weight that is often lacking in the genre.They give the film an air of authenticity which serves to make the shift towards violent horror in the second half feel even more horrible and raw. And when it does shift gears, it doesn't hold back. The minimalist make-up effects are some of the best in recent memory -- the goopy, nasty, bloody faces of the zombies are effective and genuinely disturbing. First time director Dominic Brunt does an impressive job of blending serious drama with serious horror, and successfully generates an atmosphere of doom and despair throughout.

While the film wears its influences on its sleeve (most notably 28 DAYS LATER and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD), it never feels like a clone. Dominic Brunt has created a unique little horror film in which the human drama is just as compelling as the gory thrills. BEFORE DAWN is a dark, intelligent, and welcome addition to one of the most tired sub-genres in horror.

4 out of 5.