By Dave B.
The Darkest Dawn (2016, currently on Netflix) is a sci-fi, alien invasion, found footage thriller that takes place in England. Nominally, the story is about two sisters, Chloe and Sam, who find themselves beholden to the kindness (and unkindness) of strangers in order to survive a mysterious alien attack. This is one of those movies I have mixed feelings about and I imagine that viewer opinion will be fairly evenly split about it. And for the record, I was sober when I watched it, unfortunately.
On the positive side, The Darkest Dawn has some impressive special effects considering that it had a budget of under $50,000. The action sequences (on the somewhat rare occasions on which they occur) are decent. Most of the performances aren’t terrible either. And there was just some indescribable aspect to the tone of the movie that I liked. It felt bleak, but not overpoweringly depressing. At times, it even managed to be pleasurably tense and exciting.
That said, The Darkest Dawn has some glaring and very annoying flaws. For starters, the movie rapidly ceases to be about Chloe and Sam and instead focuses on a group of guys who rescue them from an unstable jerk who had been “protecting” them since shortly after the invasion. That directly touches upon my second major problem with the movie: none of the female characters seem to have any agency. They’re written almost entirely as a plot device to drive the action instead of having any capability to willfully influence anything at all. That in turn, made it hard to care about any of the characters. There isn’t much depth to anyone and they all fall into stereotypes. For some people, having helpless damsels in distress being saved over and over again may be appealing, but personally, I find it boring. Also, I found it unrealistic that units of the British military would go feral only a few days after a disaster, but whatever.
The split on opinion over The Darkest Dawn is going to be between those who find it mildly entertaining and those who find it to be cliché and culturally/socially outdated (and not only with gender roles). I think both sides would have cogent arguments that I would agree with. It’s a bit too entertaining to hate, but too flawed to be good, so I’m going to split the difference: I’m not going to recommend The Darkest Dawn, but I won’t give it a horrible rating and I’ll tell viewers that they may enjoy it if they are willing and able to temporarily turn off some of their higher level cognitive functions.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.