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Short Film Review: Dawn of the Deaf – “Will leave you wanting more”

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Dawn of the Deaf, is a short zombie horror film that premiered at FrightFest 2016. Written and directed by Rob Savage – BIFA Winning Writer-Director, a Screen International Star of Tomorrow and Promo News’ 2014 “Director to Watch” – the film has screened at over 100 festivals worldwide, including Sundance, London Film Festival and Sitges, and has now been launched online as a Vimeo Staff Pick.

Dawn of the Deaf is an apocalyptic horror short, made with the Deaf community in London. Savage says that “Our aim was to create a genre film that would connect Deaf and hearing audiences in an engaging, thrilling way. As opposed to re-treading the same narratives usually seen when dealing with disability, we wanted to create a tense story in which the characters’ “disability” becomes their ultimate advantage over the hearing population.”

Dawn of the Deaf from Rob Savage on Vimeo.

On May 7th at 9am a mysterious “pulse” hits the UK. The sound knocks everyone who can hear out, only for them to shortly reawaken later as flesh-hungry zombies. Dawn of the Deaf begins an hour prior to the event and follows four deaf Londoners who are not only unaffected, but also may or may not survive…

Sam (Caroline Ward) is a young teen living at home with her family but still isolated. Only her father can communicate with her via sign language, and takes advantage of the fact by keeping her to himself and attempting to take advantage of her. Kevin (Stephen Collins) is a middle-aged man accepting an award at a posh do who gives his acceptance speech in his traditionally mocked “deaf voice” while his wife cheers in the crowd. Nat (Haley Bishop) and Imogen (Radina Drandova) round out the cast as lovers in the midst of a volatile row that could go either way.

Nat and Imogen’s narrative thread is full of clever tricks that add a lot of production value to the short, including a highly technically impressive and brilliant one shot in an underpass. The camera circles the pair as they verbally spar, with the subtitles translating their arguments sometimes partially blocked out by their bodies. The use and presence of sign language and subtitles leading up to this point has made us so used to them, that we do not necessarily need to see everything that they are saying as their super strong performances make absolutely clear what is happening and what is being said.

Topping this sequence is a fantastic kicker where the camera stops circling and backs down the tunnel to reveal the bodies of those that have fallen victim to the “pulse” while the pair have broken up and made up again. The aftermath of the “pulse” leaves our leads in various states and situations that are all dangerous, potentially lethal and interesting, and Savage also shows us some fantastic 28 Days Later-esque shots of a now body-strewn central London.

It’s a prequel to a potentially awesome and unique British zombie movie, told in subs and sign, that will leave you not just wanting more – but also wanting more deaf characters on your television and cinema screens. Dawn of the Deaf has specifically been made as a means of gaining interest for a feature length version of the film, which the creators are committed to make with an entirely Deaf cast for a mainstream horror audience. On the strength of the short, I really hope that this happens. So watch it now and then join me in keeping everything crossed that Dawn of the Deaf becomes a feature as soon as possible.

Dawn of the Deaf is available to watch right now on Vimeo, and keep up to date with news on the film and its quest to become a full feature at www.dawnofthedeaf.com

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3 Comments

  1. I reviewed this short film as well. It was fantastic. Tweeted the director about the review, my admiration for his film, and about TWD and Romero. Savage is a cool and humble guy.

  2. BTW, Live for Films doesn’t use Disqus anymore?

    • Hello there,

      Don’t use it anymore as it was causing a few problems with other plugins and things.

      Cheers

      Phil

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