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At Dawn They Sleep

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Release Date: 
Screen Entertainment
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Directed by: 
Brian Paulin
Brian Paulin
Rich George
Bottom Line: 

"At Dawn They Sleep" is a low budget independent offering shot on Digital Video -- and it certainly showcases a fair degree of talent from its American director, writer, producer and lead actor Brian Paulin: the ideas behind the story are quite original (lack of originality is usually a common failing of no budget cinema); it is fairly well shot and features some daring stunt work, good make-up effects and plenty of the requisite elements that a cheaply made indie movie must include to stand a chance of getting noticed. In other words, judicious amounts of blood and breasts! Unfortunately, Brian Paulin has spread his talents a little too thinly and the end result is probably not as accomplished as it could have been: while action sequences and gore effects are well above average for such a low budget flick, poor acting and a plot that dissolves into total incoherence by the final act let the side down.

Two ruthless drug dealers, Stephen (Brian Paulin) and Ian (Rich George) are busy going about their normal business: murdering double-dealing distributors and engaging in a bloody street war with a rival gang led by Billy Rae Douglas. One night, the two men spend the night with some "Goth" girls who seem even more deadly than they are! During the night, they reveal themselves to be vampire creatures of the night and both Stephen and Ian wake feeling nauseous (cue disgusting vomit scenes!) and suffering from sore necks. Not surprising since they two criminals have had their throats torn out by their female guests, who have promptly disappeared the next morning. Stephen and Ian continue with their day-to-day activities but when Stephen is ambushed and shot to "death" by a rival gang member, he is surprised to find himself quickly recovering and only suffering from a few pains and some bruising! The two track down Stephen's attacker and hack him to pieces -- having now realised that they seem to have gained strange, death-defying powers ... as well as the need for fresh blood!

Some very gory effects and several fairly well-handled action sequences distinguish this first part of the film -- although the acting is notably flat and unconvincing. The plot seems set to trundle along uneventfully but then several imaginative twists are introduced that make the film seem slightly more interesting than it otherwise would have been: the female vampires are really a race of winged Angels who are attempting to wipe out the human race with a vampire virus in order to claim the Earth as their own. To complicate matters, another race of Devils want to kill the Angels! Stephen and Ian are caught in the middle of this otherworldly battle and both eventually find themselves pitted against each other when they choose different sides in the war!

This part of the film is where it becomes more visually interesting: the make-up for the Devil creature is quite arresting and the Angels combine a standard tattoos-and-piercings "Goth" look with large feathery wings of the traditional angel style. Unfortunately, this is also where the plot begins to unravel, becoming pretty much incomprehensible. There are enough memorable sequences to make this a worthwhile purchase though and incomprehensible as the plot may be, it does involve an awful lot of nude models posing as angelic creatures ... as well as many bloody decapitations and disembowellings. Surely, no bad thing! The head-crunching Thrash Metal soundtrack may not be to everyone's taste (the title of the movie probably comes from the Slayer track of the same name) but the grimy aesthetic of the drug barons' world makes an interesting contrast with the dark supernatural underworld represented by the Angels and Demons and helps create some degree of atmosphere not usually found in movies produced in the rather stark Digital Video medium.

Screen Entertainment bring this US Indie film to the UK in a fairly bare-bones edition. The 4:3 aspect ratio transfer looks fine and any variation in the sound levels of the audio track are clearly already present in the original sound mix. A trailer for the film is the only related extra, but a number of trailers for other SCREEN ENTERTAINMENT/HARD GORE titles are also included.

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