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Sunday, June 21, 2015

DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON -- Movie Review by Porfle

The opening teaser is the usual "teen couple killed by unseen menace" thing, followed by a very leisurely main titles sequence, and then we meet Barry Corbin as irascible old bartender Cyrus regaling some city folk who've wandered into his country tavern with stories of the local "Legend of Blood Lake."  

After that, DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON (2014) dissolves to a group of college kids coming to town to research the tale for their Myths and Legends class.  We expect the same old stereotypes from previous dead-teenager flicks, but this bunch isn't that bad--Lanie (Lauren Leal) is blonde but not that dumb, Nick (Edward Hong) is a brainy Asian kid but not all that nerdy, group leader Michael (Kurt Cole) is a straight-arrow type who isn't a stiff, and crude, fratboy-type Penn (Johnny Walter) is...well, okay, he's a crude fratboy-type.  But even he gets all emo during the "campfire confessions" scene.

In said scene, which takes place after the gang have set up camp out at Blood Lake for what definitely doesn't promise to be a fun-filled weekend, everyone opens up about their most intimate, soul-baring secrets.  Very little of interest has happened by this point in the film and the campfire scene, like most of the scenes before it, really starts to drag. Only the presence of gorgeous Dawn (Shiree Nelson), a town girl who's helping the kids out for some reason, kept me from dozing off.

Still, we learn some things that will be important later on, and we also find out that the final member of the group, disturbed Goth loner Mara (Brooke Coleman), sees dead people.  Mention a dead person you've known during your intimate confession, and chances are Mara can see that person standing right next to you.

As you might guess, these dead people start popping up all over the place and forcing our protagonists to face certain bad things that have happened to them in their lives, for better or worse.  It isn't very scary, and you might get the impression that you're watching a big outdoor group therapy session that mixes the paranormal with a Hallmark Channel original. 

The part that does try to give us the willies is how the massacre of a Comanche tribe by Texas Rangers back in the cowboy days has left a horde of very unquiet ghosts roaming around the lake and terrorizing anyone who tries to find the Comanche chief's gold which was given to him by the Great Spirit. 

If you're having trouble following any of that, rest assured that the details don't really matter.  The ghosts, dressed in hooded robes and appearing out of nowhere armed with big hooks like the spectral pirates in John Carpenter's THE FOG, aren't too scary at all and the film, while teasing us a couple of times, doesn't try to pull off a single gory kill. 

After a lot of running around in the woods with not that much entertainment value to show for it, we get a resolution of the main ghostly concerns on the part of both the Native Americans and the emotionally-wounded college kids.  I would've preferred a horrific free-for-all of stalking, slashing mayhem, but it turns out that this isn't really that kind of movie.  The only really "Night Gallery" type of thing that happens is when one of the kids turns out to be a really bad person and suffers a poetic-justice comeuppance. 

Performances are good, with familiar face Barry Corbin (WARGAMES, THE GRAND, THAT EVENING SUN) serving as a sort of master of ceremonies as he reels off these various stories and legends from behind his bar.  The film itself is very low-budget, although director Kirk Loudon does nice work and manages to keep things watchable enough. 

(I viewed a barebones screener of the film and thus cannot comment on tech specs or extra features.)

If you're looking for a bloody teen slasher flick or a supernatural thriller that'll have you jumping out of your seat, then DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON probably won't do it for you.  If you'll settle for a mildly spooky tale that's passably entertaining provided you don't expect too much, it might.

Buy it at
Official website
Street date: July 28, 2015

Runtime: 95 minutes
Format: 1:85 Flat
Sound: Dolby SR
Genre: Mystery/Horror
Country: USA
Language: English


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