Joining the fashion that most of you have been doing because of Halloween, I am reviewing here my first slasher film of the month. The film Just Before Dawn is a 1981 slasher film directed by Jeff Lieberman. The film basically follows the story line of many of the famous slasher films, like Friday the 13th:
A group of five friends go up a mountain to go camping. They are warned by a couple of people of the surroundings to stay away from the area, but, surprise surprise, they don't listen to them and go up the mountain anyway. There, strange events start to ocurring, including the disappearance of one of them. When he is found, the four remaining are split in two groups of two. The one who found him are aware that there is something in that mountain (though they are skeptical at first), but the second don't know until they are attacked by the thing inside the forest.
Well, this film is better than your average slasher film. Slasher films are, by common, a genre that has many flawed films, and only about the 20 or 25 per cent of them are good (examples are the originals of Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc., as well as other stand alone films like Black Christmas). This film isn't terrible, but still isn't qualifyable.
To start with the plot, the plot is predictable and full of clichés, though it smartly avoids a couple. It has been done about a dozen times (kids camping in the woods, haunted by an unknown killer, etc, etc), but at least in this film they dont go into the killings right away. They first start with the camp and its surrounding. Then they try to add a little suspense, and then, when they finally get into the killings, they dont go into gory details of murder, they just happen.
This leads me to the direction of the film, which is probably the best thing about it. It isn't excellent, but still it is quite good compared to many of the other slasher films. The director in this film doesn't focus on the blood and gore as I already said, but instead tries to set a very creepy and dark atmosphere.
The acting, well, the acting isn't anything remarkable, its a little wooden in fact, but it is better than from most of the slasher films. The characters are cardboard cutouts, but again, that's not new in a slasher film. The main actress might be the best one, then her boyfriend, then maybe the other guy boyfriend of the redhead. The redhead and the other guy are the worst, along with the blonde girl they met singing. Despite this, the last three do a much more credible job than in most of the slasher remakes we see today. But again, this is not Oscar worthy.
A thing I didn't like was the killer. *WARNING: THIS PART O THE REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE RUINED TO THIS MOVIE SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH* The killer was a fat disigures man (or rather two) who chases the main characters through the forest. That's exactly what Jason Vorhees does, true, but Jason is much more cooler than this fat clown-looking guy. Though the fact that there's two of them kind of spices things up, but doesn't help to much with this little effective cheesy villain.
The film is better than most of the slasher films, but it isn't still a good one. The film lacks the punch of superior films like Halloween or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the villain isn't a very good one. But still, the actors do a better job than in other slasher movies, and the director does a good job at setting the mood. So at the end, the film isn't very original and is predictable, the villain is very crappy, but it is better than in most cases (sorry if its starting to get repetitive).
My recommendation: I won't say this is a film you have to stay away as much as you can, but it isn't a film you should watch either. I'll leave it to your choosing weather to watch it or not.
My score: 44%