Directed by and starring Drew Casson who also co-writes the movie with Jess Cleverly, The Darkest Dawn is a small experimental project by new indie studio Wildseed Studios. The project, which is backed by the legendary Pinewood Studios, stars a host of well-known YouTubers. Built mostly, but not entirely, on the strength of the online fame of its actors, the film does its best to bring a fresh twist on the well-worn found footage genre. Think Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2008) with hints of The Walking Dead (Preston A. Whitmore II, 1995) thrown in for good measure.
The film charts the adventures of two sisters, Chloe (Bethan Mary Leadley) and Sam (Cherry Wallis) trying to survive in the immediate aftermath of what appears to be an alien invasion, with the whole proceedings recorded by 16-year-old Chloe, using a camcorder we see her receive as a birthday present in the first frame of the movie. Things quickly descend into a hellish post-apocalyptic nightmare when the girls are forced to face to a new violent world of “kill or be killed”. From then on, the narrative falls into the usual “survivor in-fighting” tropes and never quite recovers from way too many story strands and more characters than necessary.
As indie sci-fi movies go, The Darkest Dawn does an adequate job by trying to tell a fairly straightforward story; it is however impossible to ignore its obvious shortcomings. The film is let down by a predictable narrative, not helped in the slightest by a fairly generic dialogue and a less than convincing cast. But it isn’t all bad –The Darkest Dawn has a solid storyline, and props must be given to the CGI department especially in its depiction of the alien warships and other warfare sequences which could rival any sci-fi film franchise. The film could however have done with a tidier screenplay and a more convincing dialogue.
It is also important to point out that Drew Casson does a great job as director (but less so as an actor) and what ultimately lets the film down isn’t so much technical ability, but rather the flimsy script and a cast that isn’t altogether bothered by sounding or looking convincing. The exception is Bethan Mary Leadley who does a good enough job even if she isn’t given much to work with in the first place. On the whole, The Darkest Dawn is rather entertaining, and in the right hands might have been a great little indie sci-fi movie a la Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010). Props must be given for all involved in this interesting project and for seeing it through considering that it was made on a shoestring.
Don’t forget to watch the film trailer below: