I honestly don’t want to dislike anything with an association with George Romero, but when sub-par independent filmmakers unleash a sub-par remake of Romero’s 1968 “Night of the Living Dead,” you just have to call a spade a spade. It’s irritating that there are still filmmakers that think they can perfect the formula better than Romero did. The rush of “Night” remakes doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, either. Which is unfortunate, because time can be better spent on films that aren’t glorified fan fiction. “Darkest Dawn” is essentially “Night of the Living Dead” all over again. Except this time, “Night” is set in modern times, and in a city.
It painfully resembles Playstation 2 cut scenes from an unreleased game that were stitched together to create a movie for horror fans. The animation is likely the worst aspect of “Darker Dawn” as much of it looks incredibly unfinished. What’s on screen looks terrible at best. Characters mouths have a smile perpetually plastered on their face, Tony Todd’s mug looks like he’s wearing a plastic bag over it, and worst of all scenes inject unnecessary fog for the sake of compensating for lack of detail. I’m not too sure why an apartment in the middle of the city would be draped in fog, but I’m also confused why there’d be a cemetery in the back of an apartment complex. Danielle Harris voices Barbara, a young girl who heads to the city to place flowers at the grave of her mother.
Just then a zombie outbreak is unleashed in the city forcing her to look for safety in an abandoned apartment house. As she settles in to her safe haven, she’s interrupted by local stranger Ben who seeks shelter of his own and bonds with Barbara while trying to survive. Todd reprises his role from 1990’s “Night” and does a spirited job of reclaiming the character. He’s the most life like performance in the entire fiasco, and its fun to hear him take on the character again. “Darkest Dawn” is switched up a bit but it’s still the same old “Night” running at a merciful hour. Much of “Darkest Dawn” is comprised of polygons bickering with one another, polygons arguing over how to survive, and polygonal zombies sprinting through the darkness looking for fresh meat.
And yes, director De Soto and Majdik go for sprinting zombies this time, using the sprinters to compensate for the movie’s inherent lack of tension and dread. While the cast is fantastic, the performances are abysmal from the jumping point. Bill Moseley has a glorified voice cameo as Johnny, while Joseph Pilato is unbearable as antagonist Harry Cooper. Every element of “Darkest Dawn” is wholly unnecessary, from the sprinting zombies, the dull flashbacks, forced exposition, and painfully distracting film reel effect that the directors pepper in to their movie every minute, as if they’re attempting some sort of meta-joke of some kind. I don’t understand the punch line. “Darkest Dawn” is about as dull, dismal, and dumb as its predecessors and will not win over new horror fans any time soon.