There are two kinds of short films (well, there are more than two, but I am going to only discuss two here): 1) the kind that has a fully developed storyline with characters that can stand on its own despite its length, and 2) the kind that has an incomplete plot but is at least structured enough with interesting characters that is compelling enough to watch in its entirety, but cannot stand on its own. Rose McGowan's directorial debut, DAWN, is the latter.
I've been grappling with this because I wanted to absolutely love it as I admire McGowan's approach to filmmaking, taking a chance releasing her debut film on her own YouTube channel. But I can only say that I want more; I want more story, more tine with the characters so I can truly absorb the series of events that occur in the film. In case you're unfamiliar with the story, it follows a sheltered young teenager (Tara Lynne Barr) who's looking for an outlet for her untapped sexual energy when she develops a crush on the mysterious guy in town (Reiley McClendon). When she decides to go for a ride with him and his friends, it becomes an experience neither she nor the audience is prepared for.
McGowan lures you in with an intriguing yet skeletal framework of a story that could have many themes, but none that are defined by the end of the film. In fact, you're left with more questions than answers, particularly about its rather surprising ending (which, admittedly, did make me want to go back and watch the 17-minute film again). I also question what exactly was McGowan's objective with this story; what story is she ultimately telling? But, again, the fact that I am curious about at all it is more than many other short films can boast, There is a story here, but it needs to be worked on. Perhaps a longer running time would help, but better editing of the short film would also improve it.
Either way, I am interested enough to see the next iteration.
DAWN debuts on YouTube June 21. Watch the trailer:
Rating: B- (*** out of *****)