05th Oct2019

Grimmfest 2019: ‘Quiet Comes the Dawn’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Alexandra Drozdova, Alexander Molochnikov, Anna Slyu, Oksana Akinshina, Kuzma Kotrelev, Miroslav Pentsov, Anastasia Kuimova, Oleg Vasilkov, Valery Kukhareshin | Written by Evgeny Kolyadintsev | Directed by Pavel Sidorov

quiet-comes-the-dawn-poster

Following the death of her brother under mysterious circumstances, and haunted by a series of disturbing dreams, a young woman is persuaded to take part in an experiment at the institute of somnology, where she and 3 other patients are immersed in a joint lucid dream. But after dawn, they wake up in a completely different reality, which is worse than any nightmare…

The first thing that strikes you about Quiet Comes the Dawn are the visuals. Visually stunning, the film, at times, looks like a Cronenberg movie – there are stark hospital visuals a la Dead Ringers and Rabid and the concrete building that houses the sleep institute resembles the setting of Shivers. But that’s not all, the eerie scenes set in Sveta’s apartment also feel like they stepped out of Polanski’s Repulsion – and there are shades of that kind of “psychosis” within the script too. Though Sidorov’s film goes a lot further in sheer madness and sheer terror than Repulsion ever did.

Thankfully, whereas they could have been the be all and end all of the movie (which may have been the case if this was a big-budget American production), the visuals of Quiet Comes the Dawn only add to the dreamlike nature and, along with the script and performances, helps to create an otherworldly atmosphere, which is perfect for the subject matter at hand. Director Pavel Sidorov is obviously a fan of the genre as there are clear influences in the visual style of the film. There are even stand-out set-pieces that look like they’ve stepped out of the work of other filmmakers – including the aforementioned Cronenberg and Polanski AND Dario Argento (there’s a brilliant “curtain” sequence towards the end of the film that looks like a combination of Inferno and Phenomena for example).

However its not all about how the film looks, Quiet Comes the Dawn has superb use of audio too, which helps build some tremendous tension with the film. The audio, in particular the bassline hum that proliferates the soundtrack, sometimes assaults the senses making the audience feel closer to what we’re seeing on screen; and in some cases in just as dangerous a situation!

Even with the stunning audio landscape it is the visuals are actually key to how Quiet Comes the Dawn works, between the visuals AND the storytelling we never truly know what’s real and what’s not – which given the idea of lucid dreaming is key to the plotting of the film – something that, come the films denouement is actually key to the overall story. We were ultimately in the dark about what was really going on as much as Sveta is.

Speaking of Sveta, actress Alexandra Drozdova’s performance is the perfect combination of vulnerability and strength – and it’s a performance never feels forced. For all intents and purposes Sveta is a real person going through a truly traumatic time A trauma that is exasperated by her family history and the situation surrounding her birth. Thanks to Drozdova you believe everything that is happening; even though what is happening is totally in the realm of the supernatural and should be completely unbelieveable. She ably supported by Anastasiya Kuimova as her friend Nastya and Oleg Vasilkov, Oleg Vasilkov and Aleksandr Molochnikov, as her dream experiment partners. In fact Drozdova and Molochnikov have superb chemistry together, which is developed well enough over the short space of time the characters are together that you end uop rooting for Molochnikov’s character Kirill even though he’s not really the focus of the film.

With visuals reminiscent of the aforementilned Cronenberg and Polanski, the themes found in films like Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and Flatliners, and a huge dollop of sheer terrifying nightmare fuel, Quiet Comes the Dawn is another exciting genre export from Russia that should be on the radar of horror fans everywhere.

***** 5/5

Quiet Comes the Dawn screened on Friday October 4th as poart of Frimmfest 2019.

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