Soap opera stars aren’t really known for their horror obsessions, but Emmerdale star Dominic Brunt has managed to turn that fandom into something very good indeed. During a two week break from his day job, he directed the ultra-low budget zombie flick Before Dawn.
Alex (Brunt) and Meg (Joanne Mitchell) head off to the countryside for a quiet weekend to try and fix their currently crumbling marriage. Cut off from everyone and everything that’s been pulling them apart, the isolation of the Yorkshire hills is the perfect place for them to reconnect and rediscover their love. But this disconnection comes at a price, as they are unaware of the zombie infection raging through the country and when it finally reaches their cottage, Alex finds himself fighting for more than just survival.
Before Dawn was one of the true surprises of the festival, although this little gem isn’t without problems. These mostly come from the budgetary constraints that a film of this type suffers from, with production value being the major issue, but what it’s lacks in that department it makes up for with a rather poignant and beautifully played story of broken love and a man’s guilt as he fights an already lost battle and refuses to believe that his marriage is coming to an end.
Brunt, alongside writer Mark Illis, have crafted an intelligent and heartfelt story that smartly uses the zombie genre as a simple crutch to tell a deeper and more interesting tale. This is, at its core, a heart breaking drama with a central relationship that feels real and worth investing in.
Before Dawn definitely needs some spit and polish to make it acceptable of a general audience, but the most important thing to take away from it is that the bones are already there, and they are strong. It’s a solid but flawed addition to the zombie genre, and is a far more emotionally-charged tale than many of the Hollywood zombie releases of the last few years.