The worst kind of low-budget genre film is the type that fails to try anything new, that lacks any sort of creative hook or artistic flair. In an age where the cheapest of streaming services overflow with high-quality work, being nothing more than a pale imitation of something popular has no place. Netflix will make its own Predator knock-off if it needs one, so at the bare minimum filmmakers need to try to stand-out and put some heart into their work.
The Dawnseeker doesn’t have any heart. It’s an incomprehensible slog of terrible acting and worse action. It’s a macaroni-art mess of every genre trope a film can offer, leaving it just like anything you’ve seen before, except worse. It’s much, much worse.
Director: Justin Price
Release: September 4, 2018
Fenix is a mercenary traveling to an alien planet to pick up some ever-important stardust, which keeps Earth alive. Needless to say, the ship crashes, and only she and a few others survive, but worst of all, a monster known as the Dawnseeker has escaped and is hunting them down en mass. Except, the Dawnseeker isn’t supposed to hurt Fenix. She set him free, because she’s secretly the daughter of the man who set up the whole operation, though it’s not clear if she’s acting in his interests or not, because nothing is fucking clear in this movie.
Anyway, the crew’s stranded in what looks like a paintball course, wielding laser-tag quality armor and weapons. All the laser blasts look like they were ripped from VHS light gun games. During more intense sequences, lasers will flitter across the screen in swarms that look to blast holes clear through mercenaries, but the fighters continue to stand in place and look around as if nothing had happened to them. There’s little sense of connection between what characters do on-screen versus what the special effects show. It’s silly and cuts the tension from a host of action scenes, but it’s one of The Dawnseeker’s lighter sins.
The heaviest sin is the horrible audio work. There are movies where dialogue comes in a low murmur while the music blasts hard enough to crack windows, but in The Dawnseeker, the noise of a breeze in the background is mixed over the dialogue. It doesn’t help that most of the actors mumble and monotone their lines, and chunks of exposition are lost because of it. This matters, since so much of the movie is sci-fi gibberish. There’s talk of solar fields and creating two suns to save the Earth, which is evidently in great danger from solar death. There’s so much jumbled jargon murmured under the background music without any context or visuals to ground anything.
The Dawnseeker monster, I will say, looks kind of neat. He’s a mix between the Predator and Jason X, as a bulky wrestler-sized alien with weird face flaps, but of course he doesn’t do much. He picks some people up. He throws them down. He twists necks and bends backs over his knee to tepid snapping noises. When Fenix decapitates him, it’s kind of cool and a bit bloody, which makes it the best part of the entire movie, but that means nothing here.
The ending is incredibly abrupt and unfulfilling. I’m not sure if the producers were baiting for a sequel, or if they just didn’t have the budget to film Fenix flying into the sun, which I think is the plan right before the credits’ unceremonious roll. We’ll never know for sure, but most importantly, we’ll never care.
Netflix has 2006’s DOOM starring The Rock. You should watch that, instead.