DAWN OF THE BEAST is a new Bigfoot horror movie that does not disappoint. With the tagline “The legends are real… and they kill”, we’re in for some creepy moments – along with great makeup design. Read our full Dawn of the Beast movie review here!
DAWN OF THE BEAST is a new Bigfoot horror movie.
Before watching Dawn of the Beast, I was forwarded Uncork’d Entertainment’s description of the film. After its first four words, “Aiming to see Bigfoot…”, I was hooked, thinking, “Well, I liked Willow Creek, so let’s see what Dawn of the Beast can offer.”
It did not disappoint.
Bigfoot and beyond in Dawn of the Beast
In Dawn of the Beast, a group of graduate students attend an overnight “field trip” to a cabin in the woods led by the professor and teaching assistant of their cryptozoology class. (While the film describes these “woods” as “Northeastern”, Dawn of the Beast was filmed in upstate New York.)
Supposedly, these woods are home to many Bigfoot sightings, especially during “dead month” (i.e., September 4 to October 2), when there are clusters of missing persons cases or deaths. Naturally, this field trip occurs during the final days of “dead month.”
During a cryptozoologically oriented nature hike led by the professor, Dr. Dennis Kasdan (Willard Morgan, Lilly (Anna Shields) runs into eye-patched Everett (Grant Schumacher), staring at a large muddy footprint. Concurrently, while Chris (Adrián Burke) is photographing black-capped chickadees, teaching assistant Oz (LeJon Woods), Jake (Chris Cimperman), and Isabella (Ariella Mastroianni) find a skeleton (from which Isabella steals an emerald necklace) that they decide to keep secret to avoid ruining the field trip.
That night, when Isabella borrows Jake’s car for an errand, she sees the “unspeakable evil living out in those woods”. And it sees her back. Unfortunately…
“If it knows you’re there, they’ll be coming for you.”
Another bigfoot movie, but one worth watching
Dawn of the Beast, directed by Bruce Wemple and written by Shields, is basically an installment in an anthology film series about monsters in upstate New York. (Maybe there’s a New York equivalent of the Jersey Devil?)
In 2020, Wemple directed (and Shields wrote) Monstrous, another film about Bigfoot sightings in upstate New York, which starred Shields and Schumacher. In that same year, Wemple wrote and directed The Retreat, a film about the Wendigo (also starring Schumacher, Cimperman, and Mastroianni).
I have not seen Monstrous or The Retreat but, noticing that Dawn of the Beast’s “unspeakable evil” (i.e., the Wendigo) looked nearly identical to the Wendigo in The Retreat’s trailer, I went looking for an interview of Wemple to see what he had to say.
Per podcast Indie Horror Rising’s interview with Wemple and Shields, Dawn of the Beast was intended to merge the monsters from Monstrous and The Retreat. Wemple described Monstrous and The Retreat are “character-based”, in which the respective monsters “force[s] the characters to really examine themselves.”
In contrast, Wemple and Shields intended Dawn of the Beast to be monster-focused, emulating a fun 70s/80s drive-in movie (which they do achieve, as I noted, before listening to this podcast, “Dawn of the Beast has the campy feel of The Evil Dead, but with decent jump scares”).
Watch Dawn of the Beast on demand April 6
Pros: (1) As a native of the northeastern US, Wemple and Shields did well to capture the atmosphere of how eerie its woods are: While you may be watching one thing, something else may be watching you. (2) Burke’s performance was quite good, reminiscent of Warren from Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (3) Exceptional makeup design from Jared Balog.
Cons: (1) Its scariest moments were disjointed, given shaky and oddly positioned camera angles that did more to befuddle than terrorize, coupled with (2) blood and gore that were too digitized.
Overall, Dawn of the Beast is as Wemple and Shields intended: a fun “drive-in” movie, warranting 3 of 5 stars, as its strengths of setting, eeriness, and suspense were diluted with strange choices for cinematography in its most critical scenes.
DAWN OF THE BEAST premieres on DVD and Digital on April 6, 2021, from Uncork’d Entertainment.
Director: Bruce Wemple
Writer: Anna Shields
Stars: Adrián Burke, Ariella Mastroianni, Grant Schumacher, Anna Shields, Chris Cimperman, LeJon Woods, Willard Morgan, Francesca Anderson
Aiming to see Bigfoot, a group of students venture deep into an area of the Northeastern wilderness known for its strange creature sightings. Soon, they learn that there is a much more sinister evil lurking in the woods, the Wendigo, and once the spirit knows you’re there, they will come for you. Who will survive in a battle between the two most notorious monsters of the forest?