By DAKOTA DAHL
Starring Francesca Anderson, Adrián Burke and Chris Cimperman
Written by Anna Shields
Directed by Bruce Wemple
So, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is kind of a big deal, you might have heard of it. It has been regularly printing its own money by jamming super-people together onto the same screen for over a decade. Now, every soulless executive from every studio is desperate to create shared universes, usually with audiences being less than impressed. Ready Player One is just a pop culture-obsessed wet dream without a heart, Scoob tried to rake in those missing Captain Caveman and Dyno-Mutt dollars, and the new Space Jam trailer looked like Warner Brothers tripped while carrying every single intellectual property, dropping them into a cash-grab basketball film. Of course, they aren’t all failures, since Godzilla vs. Kong just kaiju stomped the box office and even Freddy vs. Jason has a dedicated cult following, mostly by readers of this site. So knowing that audiences love seeing two recognizable names hip-check each other for screen time, it makes sense that some enterprising horror writers/directors would pit fabled monsters against one another. Luckily for DAWN OF THE BEAST, the combination is so weird that it ends up working.
The film opens with two lovers marveling at a new necklace they have just come into possession of, possibly through illegal means. The man, Everett (Grant Schumacher) believes he sees Sasquatch, before some unseen force drags his girlfriend away, which, the audience is shown, is actually the Wendigo. Those of you familiar with director Bruce Wemple and Writer Anna Shields’s previous works will recognize both of these monsters from previous films The Retreat and Monstrous, one of which was even reviewed on this very blog. Fast forward to friends Marie, Chris, Jake (Francesca Anderson, Adrián Burke and Chris Cimperman, respectively) along with some other hangers-on, embark on a trip to finally see the goddamn Sasquatch, something some of them are interested in and others can’t be bothered to give a fuck about. The complete disinterest in seeing Sasquatch is the most believable aspect of the film since Bigfoot hasn’t been interesting since those Jack Links commercials.
While trudging, they come across an old corpse, which they somehow get talked into ignoring since it would ruin their weekend. This establishes every single person as a complete dickhole, as the resolution to a missing persons case ranks lower on their priorities than seeing a seven-foot hairy dingus. They also run into a one-eyed goofball, who turns out to be Everett from earlier. He has an eyepatch now, so you know he’s seen some shit, and he seems to be on the warpath to hunt down Sasquatch. He doesn’t outright say this, though, since being rude and vague is the way of life when you’re hunting the ‘Squatch.
The party gets to their cabin, and things start going downhill. Everett does a kidnapping to use a young woman as bait, another young lady gets possessed by the actually pretty neat-looking spirit of the Wendigo, and creatures start showing up like crazy. They discover some backstory about the necklace from the beginning of the film, and how that’s involved with the Wendigo, but let’s be honest, you aren’t here for exposition, you wanna’ see Bigfoot deliver fuzzy haymakers to a bunch of slimy cannibaloids.
Sadly, while the film does eventually deliver on that promise, there is so much meandering and melodrama that the payoff hardly seems worth it. I can only hear horny youngsters confess their love for each other while barricading doors so many times before I’m tempted to fast-forward to the big boss battle. And due to the budget of the film, the fight is a little janky, frantically cut and edited until the impact of every Skunk Ape Slam loses most of its effect on the audience. Still, it does have a slight satisfaction to it, which makes the film worth watching at least once.
Much like other Bruce Wemple films, DAWN OF THE BEAST is an amazing concept dragged down by its own bloated script. The action takes too long to arrive, the dialogue is unevenly paced, and the budget isn’t properly utilized. It’s still a fun romp and delivers on enjoyability a lot of the time, so you definitely shouldn’t skip it if you like seeing rubbery B-movie monsters wail on each other in the third act.
DAWN OF THE BEAST premieres on DVD and Digital April 6th from Uncork’d Entertainment.