Movie Review: “Dawn Of The Crescent Moon” Is Sluggish And Unimaginative

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Review by James McDonald

A group of college students travel to a small Texas town to research the Legend of Blood Lake, an obscure folktale forged by events surrounding the horrible massacre of a Comanche village.

I truly love independent movies. As an indie filmmaker myself, I know the hardships of writing a script and then having to put the rest of your movie together which includes casting, location scouting, lunches for cast and crew and then the post-production process which includes editing, scoring the movie, sound effects and the inevitable premiere. A lot of time and effort goes into the making of an indie movie so when I get the opportunity to review them, whether they’re low or no budget, I jump at the chance. “Dawn of the Crescent Moon” is a low-budget independent movie that introduces us to five students who through one of their college professors, are sent out on a class assignment to uncover the truths about various myths and legends. They are appointed ‘The Legend of Blood Lake’, an obscure story which encompasses the brutal massacre of a Comanche village. They arrive at a small, sleepy town where they meet Dawn (Shiree Nelson), a pretty local girl who agrees to assist them with their research as she is very well versed in the legend.

After setting up camp by a lake, darkness falls across the land at which point, the ghosts of the indian massacre make themselves known to the living. One of the girls, Mara (Brooke Coleman), is very introverted and standoffish and made a part of the group at the last minute so nobody knows anything about her but she possesses a gift, the ability to see and talk to the dead. This comes in very handy as the story progresses and the group begins to individually experience unexplained paranormal activity at which point, she can explain to them (and us) exactly what’s happening. On the whole, “Dawn of the Crescent Moon” is an attractive movie to look at. Its images are crisp and clear and the sound is impressive but sadly, that’s about all it has going for it. Even legendary character actor Barry Corbin (“Stir Crazy”, “Wargames”) can’t resurrect this lifeless story. The characters presented to us, are cardboard cutouts that we’ve seen a million times before in numerous other movies and they serve no other purpose than to either be killed or help propel the narrative forward, something the story should be able to do regardless.

We have the nerd, Nick (Edward Hong), the jock and loudmouth, Penn (Johnny Walter), the pretty girl with a heart of gold, Lanie (Lauren Leal), the considerate leader of the group, Michael (Kurt Cole) and Mara, the outsider. These characters act and behave exactly they way they did in every other horror movie like “Scream”, “Halloween” and take your pick from any of the “Friday the 13th” movies. For once, I’d love to see a horror film where the main characters are absolutely nothing like we’ve seen before and are given an original and fresh perspective. The lake acts as a catalyst and depending on what kind of a heart you have, it will react accordingly. Come to find out, one of the characters is actually a serial killer and that came so far out of left field, it was ludicrous and totally unbelievable but because they’re evil, they get their just desserts. When the rest of the group asks where this person is, Mara informs them of their real identity and initially nobody believes her but in order for the story to continue, they have to so they never make mention of it again.

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Another has never forgiven his mother for taking her own life and leaving him with his abusive father but the lake shows him that it was actually his father that killed her and staged it to look like suicide. The idea of the lake acting as a stimulant to either help or punish those who come near it, was a good idea but it was in the cheesy execution of the aftermath, either good or bad, that left a sour taste in my mouth. There is also a legend about indian gold which sits at the bottom of the lake and anybody who tries to engage in its retrieval, meets their grisly demise by way of a group of hooded figures who serve as guardians, not just for the gold but for the lake in general. They appear intermittently and do their best Sith impersonations, staring out menacingly from underneath their cloaks. This whole subplot is quickly passed by in order to tell the main story. Halfway through the movie, each character gets to tell their back-story as they sit around the campfire and this scene goes on for about fifteen minutes and that’s fifteen minutes too long.

This is a supernatural thriller, the audience doesn’t need to hear about each character and their individual lives and upbringings, happy or sad, they want the story to proceed and to be thrilled. By the end, two of the five characters are either dead or missing and the rest of the group get in their SUV and head home, everything seemingly hunky dory and copacetic. I wish I could come away from this movie feeling the same way but alas, it was not meant to be.

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James McDonald
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One Response
  1. August 23, 2016

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