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  • The movie starts like a typical horror movie then lost focus. Did not know if the topic was family problems or something evil outside the cabin. anyways it stayed that way till the end. Absolutely no plot of any kind. It was as if a family had gone into the woods for a vacation and then all of a sudden decided to make a movie during that time. Najarra Townsend acted well but the rest of the cast was awful. The attempt to induce horror through the killing of the dog failed to have any impact and in fact diluted whatever little suspense that was building up. It was all too familiar. loosely woven plot, awful acting, lack of direction left a bad taste.
  • It could have been an interesting concept. Unfortunately, the script is unrealistic and the acting is poor (especially the actress who plays the sister). The story is too slow-paced, as if the director didn't know himself in which direction he was going. From the first minute, it is hard to sit back and enjoy the film as the director doesn't have the capacity to make you forget you actually are watching a film. It is impossible to feel any fear or tension, or any kind of emotion at all, as the actors don't project anything (the script doesn't help them). The way the characters react is completely unnatural, even at the beginning. The end is disappointing, nothing makes any sense. Basically, a waste of time.
  • Okay-ish effort for a no-budget digital feature with some fair performances by a pretty good cast for a film of this size.

    My biggest problem with the film is the fact that it treads no new ground. There was some potential here - some genuine suspense but the ending is nothing more than a yawn inducing been there done that sort of affair.

    The director clearly has some flair and creates some decent chills. I've read some reviews bemoaning the budget of the film which personally I think is a BS cop-out for lazy scriptwriting.

    Having no budget is no excuse for bad writing. Can anyone say EVIL DEAD!!??? This is where the film falls a little flat is in it's scripting - the characters are well drawn and you do give a damn but the interest level fades quickly as the film makes it's way to it's all too lame denouement.
  • tfed7731 May 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    I for the life of me can't understand how this so called "film" has gotten a single vote above a 2. I view at least 6 films a week, and this really had my hopes up. "Truly original", "An end you never saw coming"..... Come on! If by original you mean terrible, and with an ending you never saw coming you mean non-existent, I'm inclined to agree. It starts out slow, and I am talking snails' pace in winter slow. It finally picks up half way through, with the realization of telepathy. However, with the lack of character development it only frustrates the viewer. Coupled with less than B-Movie acting, and an extremely weak story line, this movie is an utter fail. The only promise shown was the fruition of the story. The whole time watching this film I was waiting for an ending that could have at least somewhat redeemed this picture. Unfortunately, the end was worse than the movie already was, making for one of the biggest let downs I've experienced in a long time. I'm all about open endings like in "The Violent Kind", (which was great) but at least you could draw your own conclusion, or talk about the possibilities of their fate. At any rate, this movie was beyond a waste of time.
  • ChrisMichael8131 May 2011
    There seems to be 2 favorable reviews of this film which I find very hard to believe. Rest assured that the 2 reviews were given by the same person. The movie tried very hard. The director really gave a go at an artsy type of horror film. Much in the way of films such as AntiChrist or evening The Shining. The problem was that the director didn't have any directions.(Imagine that). The only bonus to the film was I thought the girl in it was pretty hot and could possibly go somewhere with her acting I guess. The score was pretty much stolen from a hundred other movies which bothered me. To the director and writer. Yes it is fine to be vague with who or what your antagonist is. If done correctly you can add suspense to a film. But not so freaking vague that after the people watching and thinking, well that explained nothing and wasted my time.
  • strcam73210 June 2011
    I have been watching movies for a long long time and I'm sorry to say that this is overall the worst movie I have seen. The acting wasn't terrible, the actors who played a brother and sister acted well....the others, so so! The plot was non existent and very drawn out and boring. The music was great! As far as horror scores go, this was good and I think it the only thing that kept me tuned in. The ending did not make any sense, but then again, most of the movie itself didn't. I'm not a professional critic but I am very open minded to different types of movies and if you asked me about this, I would tell not to waste your time!
  • Takes place at a Northern Minnesota lake cabin where a brother and sister visit their father and step-mom. As the first night unfolds with uncomfortable small-talk and tension, tragedy strikes.

    The film itself is not bad. The concept is quite strong -- a family, already tense, is put on edge by a stranger who may be a crazy killer or my be trying to save them from something even worse. The choice to not show the something even worse actually made the film stronger (was this for budget reasons or simply to allow for our imaginations to run wild?).

    I have to give it some personal respect for being shot in Hayward, Wisconsin. Being a 30-year Wisconsin native, I always enjoy seeing our state get some film time. We have had our share of good films shot here, but there is always room for more. While this is not the greatest film, it is still welcome.

    My problem with the film was the hackneyed dialogue. The acting was not bad, but the lines were cheesy. What really turned me off was the son telling the dad, "Yeah, walk away. You're really good at that." That line is so cheesy, so unrealistic and cliché. I just cannot see a son really saying that to his dad.

    Beyond that, any real problems were budget issues. This same script given to a production company with a million or two to throw around and we would have a successful feature. I hate to knock a film for its budget, but in this case I have to. I have seen more done with less, but here the shortfalls were just too apparent.

    You might still wish to give the film a chance. Maybe I was just feeling critical the day I watched it. Many others have loved it and the director, Gregg Holtgrewe, has received a fair amount of praise. And, personally, Gregg is a really nice guy, so I feel his work deserves a fair shake. Best horror film you see this year? No. But still decent -- something like "Evil Dead" meets "Feast", with an Ingmar Bergman influence.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    FOREWORD: Until the last 1 or 2 minutes of the film, I wanted to give this little indie gem a 7. Then, I felt robbed and cut that score in half.

    This movie gets off to a very slow, snail's pace of a start. Not until the dog is injured about 15 minutes in do we really get a sense of where the plot may be going. Then, the creepiness and confusion set in for the next hour or so. Just when the tension and weirdness reach their pique, the movie is suddenly over.

    There is no explanation of what was going on, no resolution, no tying up on loose ends, nothing to really end the movie. Rather, one of the cast delivers an eerie one-liner and fade to black.

    I am so angry that I wasted 90 minutes on this film. I liked the otherworldly feel, the oddness of the mood, the terrible dysfunction of the family, and the use of telepathy. I really wanted to know what was happening, why we were hearing snippets of what the characters really thought about their family members, and understand why they started going crazy and killing each other off.

    But, this movie is kind of like a Tootsie Pop, because "the world may never know" what the point of this film is.
  • A family decides to go away for a weekend to a house in the woods to reconnect. Still bothered from a divorce and history of ills committed, their weekend away is derailed when a stranger enters their home and holds them hostage. After his introduction,we learn that something is lurking in the woods and presumably, its coming after the inhabitants of the home.

    A slow burn type of approach, Dawning is a truly remarkable achievement in low budget indie horror. Not only from a production value perspective (it's better than a lot of mainstream released fare) but also in the way that it challenges the viewer and doesn't spoon feed them any answers. The film will stay with you long after the credits roll. It's a modern psychological horror masterpiece.
  • Based on the trailer, I was concerned that this film would be pretentious and boring; I am happy to be wrong! The story is compelling and the characters are believable, which is crucial to the horror genre. There are no cheap quick scares; instead the film is long on tension and atmosphere. The viewers are spared blood and gore. The acting, across-the-board, is fantastic. I especially liked Christine Kellogg-Darrin, who brings heart to the role of Laura, a woman fighting to keep her marriage intact and bond with her resentful step-daughter. For people who appreciate intelligent horror films, "Dawning" is a must.
  • For a low budget indie cabin in the woods movie, I thought this movie could have gone bad in a million ways, but it didn't. It was cool slasher-flick without the slasher and it wasn't dumbed down either because the characters all seemed to be real. There's a mystery to who or what is out in the woods but it seemed kinda obvious to me what it was though the last line doesn't make sense to me. The suspense kept me going and it felt like real people and the crazy guy who shows up was awesome because I really didn't know whether he was lying or not half the time. I like catching these low budget movies and this one was way better than most.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a note from the is a list of reviews from horror critics so the "intelligent" people who think I write them can see I, indeed, do now you can settle down with those kinds of statements:


    "This my friends is a film that exemplifies all that is great in independent cinema. When every element aligns perfectly, the end result is a product that easily stands up to anything Hollywood is offering."


    "Dawning is one of the best independent horror films that I've had the pleasure of watching in the past few years and proof positive that original story telling and smart filmmaking isn't dead."


    "Most horror movies attempt to frighten its viewers by amping up the external scare factors. The cinematic landscape is littered with masked killers, man eating aliens from beyond and ghouls that have risen from their graves with sights set only on carnage and death. However, it's the films that internalize the horror that more often than not stick with us the longest. Movies that prey on its characters own internal fears, self doubt, and sometimes self loathing can scare us the most. No greater monster exists than the ones we create in our own heads. Dawning understands and exploits this idea. With his film Dawning writer/director Gregg Holtgrewe created a minimal budget psychological horror masterpiece."


    "The past few years have been nothing short of amazing in terms of quality indie horror offerings. I'll go on record as saying that independent films are doing more now for the horror genre than at any other time. Pushing traditional boundaries and coming up with new and inventive ways to shock and terrify us, has been a defining characteristic. Dawning is no exception and this film will stay with you long after the credits roll.

    HORROR 101

    "As Albert Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." This concept rings especially true to the horror genre. Sure, anyone can make a gross-out movie with over-the-top gore, but it takes a true master of filmmaking to create suspense based on the unknown. Gregg Holtgrewe accomplished just that with 'Dawning'."


    "If you like the slow-burn approach of films like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and THE STRANGERS, and can appreciate the metaphysical underpinnings of works by directors like David Lynch and M. Night Shyamalan, then DAWNING will be a very welcome discovery."


    "One of the best indie films I've ever seen."


    "Dawning is 80 minutes of suspense and creepiness that may leave you with more questions than answers but it'll keep you guessing and biting your nails the whole time. "


    "Evil lurks in 'Dawning'. A malicious entity which is never shown is more formidable to the conscious than any physical demon. An off-screen villain can torment the imagination and arouse one's own inner fears better than another person's image of any devil in the darkness."


    "Great work from some up-and-coming filmmakers. I'm hoping to see more films in the future! PS: That poster freaking rocks!"


    "I loved the direction, I really want to see more from Gregg Holtgrewe, as he seems to study the films he was obviously inspired by. Seek this gem out, cause that's what it is, a gem."


    "Dawning not only establishes an engaging sense of dread through its plot, it's technically sound to boot. The film is shot crisply, using the confined setting to its advantage while creating distance between characters and objects with some great foreground/background shots. The sound design is most impressive, turning creaking boards and rustling trees into the bumps in the night you'd expect from a film of this sort."


    "The movie looks professional, the imagery and photography are top notch and the acting solid. But what makes Dawning stand out is the drawn out suspense that chills you to the bone."


    "Having such complex and deep characters is what makes Dawning a great little independent horror film that stands out from the pack, and I can only highly recommend seeking it out."
  • "Dawning" is a pretty decent psychological thriller that is marred by some uneven acting and a non-great ending. The director does an effective job with the pacing, and I thought the family drama that played out was realistic and well-acted.

    However, some of the acting feels as if they could have run through a couple more takes and it probably would have helped to re-shoot a couple of the scenes, something that the budget probably didn't allow for. That said, I thought the film got many things right, from the tight camera work and the believable, relate-able characters that you wind up caring about to the contrast between the brightly-lit cabin and the dark, wind- blowing-through-the-trees creepy forest.

    If you're considering watching this film, and are wondering if you'll enjoy it, here's a simple test: you're flipping through channels late one night. On one channel, a couple Twilight Zone episodes are playing. On another, one of the latter Saw sequels is on. If you're the sort of person who'd rather watch the Twilight Zone episode, then you'll probably enjoy this film.
  • Its just a regular vacation with the folks for brother and sister Chris and Aurora. Things take a turn when tensions between father and son bubble to the surface and disaster strikes at the secluded cabin they are staying at. Add to this the abrupt appearance of a crazed stranger mumbling about a mysterious force that is chasing him and you have a tense chiller that builds in suspense until the terrifying finale.

    The focus is on atmosphere and the characters here, not gore and shocks. Director Greg Holtgrewe is obviously working with a meager budget but his actors and the cinematography more than compensate for any discrepancy in horror action set pieces. Take some time out of your day to see this delightful horror gem.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This eerie B-horror is not without interest. Owing more kinship to The Twilight Zone than The Evil Dead, DAWNING pits an unknown evil in the woods against a gratingly dysfunctional family conducting an uneasy reunion in a cabin deep in the lonely Northern Minnesota wilderness.

    Grown children Chris and Aurora are welcomed in by their alcoholic father, Richard, and their stepmother, Laura. At first, Gregg Holtgrewe's script pursues faltering battles for dominance between Chris and his father, who are immediately at odds, with attempts at a forced reconciliation via the stepmother who acts as a peacemaker. The tepid melodrama is suddenly overshadowed by an attack by unknown perpetrators on the family dog after it wanders into the forest at night. Just as suddenly, a bloodied, possibly insane stranger appears claiming his girlfriend was murdered by an unseen It in the forest. What follows is suspenseful if not somewhat predictable, in the rote disappearances of characters who enter the woods to investigate voices or noises beyond the tenuous safety of the familial cabin.

    Holtgrewe, who also directed, compensates for the lack of visceral thrills with a steady, studied increase in thrills of the Creepy variety. Two scenes stand out as superior skin-crawlers -- Chris' discovery of his father in the woods and the final scene, in which Aurora's routine pulling back of a window curtain reveals the inexplicable in all its ghostly glory.

    DAWNING is not completely satisfying and the acting is shaky -- Jonas Goslow and Najarra Townsend are adequate as the young leads but the others are rural repertory theater types, with Danny Salmen doing his eye-rolling utmost to convey crazed fear which irritates rather than illuminates. The cabin setting, shot in floods of warm yellows and wood-grain oranges, juxtaposes well against the actions of the bickering family. Other intelligent uses of light and setting heightens the sense of dread as the family's plight becomes a matter of no escape.

    Holtgrewe is a new director who has nonetheless mastered some strong dramatic irony here. For example, contrasting the family blinded by its internal struggles and emotional deadness against the forest, which projects its own brand of deadness and horror, into which the humans simply wander unaware of what it is they can't see.

    --Jeffrey Frentzen