QUIET COMES THE DAWN (a.k.a. Rassvet / Dawn) ** Russia 2019 Dir: Pavel Sidorov. 98 mins
This good looking but conceptually hackneyed Russian horror picture has an arresting prologue: a young pregnant woman drives spectacularly to her doom on a rainy, hallucinatory night. Cut to the 20th birthday party of the daughter she never knew, Sveta (Alexandra Drozdova), whose loyal older brother Anton (Kuzma Kotrelev) talks of being stalked in his dreams. Her own parallel nightmares leads her to research their mother’s involvement in a demon-worshipping cult and, after Anton commits suicide, Sveta enrols in experimental dream therapy at a Somnology Institute. Efforts to link individual lucid dreamers together are marred by something evil that wants to shake off the shackles of the dream world. Although she spends too much of the film cowering in fear in a skimpy night dress or falling victim to a series of predictable jump scares, Drozdova manages to deliver an appealing performance as a grief-stricken heroine with an increasingly fractured sense of reality. If all this seems over-familiar, it’s because it cribs from an assortment of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels plus slightly lesser known Craven-influenced horrors like BAD DREAMS (1988) and William Malone’s PARASOMNIA. Its take on the 80’s “rubber reality” genre trend doesn’t stretch far beyond severed heads in vending machines, CG-augmented ghouls and savage dogs, and the characters – including a handsome but annoyingly jokey journalist – are largely cardboard. Debut feature director Pavel Sidorov brings some atmosphere and production value, but it’s po-faced, seldom scary and has nothing new to bring to the party.
Review by Steven West