Written and directed by Jay Reel, a prequel to his 2003 feature Dawn, Dawn (Chloe Liles) is a special little girl with very particular requirements. Born from a human father (Jeremy Liles) and a vampire mother, who died while giving birth. Dawn requires blood to survive and though her father is doing his best to help, she needs more. Also starring: Connie Copeland and Vance Liles.
It’s difficult to tell an original vampire story at this stage, the supernatural has been enveloped into Hollywood with vampires, werewolves, zombies, and more miscellaneous monsters abound but in fairness to this film, vampirism in young children hasn’t been tackled quite as often. When you think of a child vampire, you probably think of Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire or Lina Leandersson in Let the Right One In, or depending on how old you were or if you had kids in 2000, The Little Vampire, although Dawn probably falls closes to the latter. It doesn’t have the more comedic angle but it does follow a simple story, trying to survive while doing the least damage or pain to other people as possible.
The story opens very slowly, and there’s issues with static as the radio playing in the background conflicts with the recording, it’s also a very unusual choice of music, or station, feeling extremely old fashioned for something taking place in recent years. It’s not a strong start, it needed harsher editing to move forward, the point was made then lingered on for much too long. It’s not the only difficulty that the film has, the actors struggle with the emotion required, it’s surprising that given their sharing of the same last name, they must be related so you would imagine the connection to be strong but that doesn’t come across on screen. It also leans extremely heavily into the drama, there’s an abrupt introduction of Copeland’s character and she has difficulty coming across convincingly which is unfortunate but reflects the film’s larger problem with sincerity.
It continues to move at a slovenly pace throughout, there’s many moments that could have been easily shortened and sharpened, they’re trying too hard and spending extended periods on moments that don’t need it. Where the cuts should come they don’t and then when they do it’s not always a great transition, particularly when introducing a CGI model of blood cells, it undercuts the film’s simple, dramatic atmosphere and is entirely unnecessary. There was a lot of room to include much more of a story in those 20-minutes, than what the end result supplies.
In the end, Dawn: Year Seven simply takes itself too seriously, there was a huge opportunity to embrace the more adventure or horror side of things but it sticks to one singular theme, one slight aim and it’s not enough. There were instances where it had potential which weren’t embraced but this is likely because those elements are covered in the existing feature, and while it’s possibly more interesting for those that have seen the full film, it needed to be able to stand by itself and doesn’t quite achieve that.