Short Film Review: Dawn of the Deaf.
Four deaf protagonists face the end of the world in a horror short that is long on character.
I may be a little late to the party for Dawn of the Deaf, seeing as this 2016 short film received quite a reception from many film festivals. With obvious inspiration from the George A. Romero zombie classic, this short manages to pull off what many horror films can’t accomplish with a full length run time: create a group of protagonists who are more interesting than the catastrophe about to befall them. While more films are featuring deaf characters, Dawn of the Deaf does a stellar job of bringing their experiences to life.
Dawn of the Deaf (2016)
On the eve of a catastrophic event which will wipe out the hearing population, we follow four deaf characters as they go about their daily lives.
About to Pop.
Dawn of the Deaf begins its story explicitly an hour before the fateful event. Seeing as the promo material and poster all show the carnage of the event itself, Director Rob Savage maximizes his short running time by having installed tension at the outset. That being said, the real meat of the story is the day to day life of the deaf protagonists. The first we meet is a young woman who is suffering an abusive family situation. The second is a pair of deaf women who are on the verge of breaking up. The last is a man giving an acceptance speech for a community award, despite a speech impediment arising from his deafness. That we know their lives are going to get a lot worse before they get better creates a layer of poignancy to the proceedings.
My only real gripe with Dawn of the Deaf is that I don’t think it needs to show the aftermath of the event. Especially when that aftermath is a rather bog standard zombie jamboree. A mysterious event that leaves our very engaging heroes in as much confusion as the audience would have had more impact. I guess they just really wanted to live up to the “Dawn of the Dead” allusion.
The last minute aside, I really loved Dawn of the Deaf. The characters are well fleshed out and evocative, especially since there is only 12 minutes to get to know them. The cinematography is good, and the director has some fun with the use of subtitles, making them dynamic in places where the content of the conversation is less important than the visual impact of the conversation. It feels as if this could function as a pitch for a series or a longer form film, and that just speaks to how much is accomplished in the way of creating character and atmosphere in a remarkable short film.