Dawn Of The Deaf is an engaging, horrifying, mystifying and, due to its brief length, tantalising take on the zombie genre unlike anything we've seen before.
Directed by Rob Savage and starring members of London's deaf community, Dawn Of The Deaf is an “apocalyptic horror short” which aims to drum up support for a feature length version of the film. After playing at festivals around the world including Sundance, Fright Fest and the BFI Film Festival and winning awards seemingly wherever it goes, DotD is now available to watch online (scroll down, hopefully the internet magicians will embed the video for us) and we honestly can't recommend it highly enough.
We join proceedings “one hour before the pulse”, where we're introduced to several characters going about their daily lives. It's kind of difficult to talk about these characters without spoiling things, but it's enough for us to say that every single one of them is interesting in their own way. When a sudden sonic blast strikes down anyone who hears it, only the deaf characters are unaffected, leaving them to pick up the pieces. Then all hell threatens to break loose when the dead start coming back to life...
Viewers are brought into these characters lives in such a fast and skilful way that it's impossible to not feel connected to each of their individual situations. Abuse, discrimination, isolation, acceptance, love, hope, fear and joy are all touched upon, but never in a heavy-handed or overly preachy sort of way. While all of the main characters are deaf, there are speaking characters and plenty of audio cues making the film accessible to every audience. Deafness is seen as a survival tool rather than a disability, turning people's preconceptions upside down and using it as a unique premise for what could well turn into a true cult movie in the making.
As a self-contained short, DotD does its job tremendously well, and raises a few questions and possibilities for the future. The cliffhanger ending – fading to black just as the dead have begun to rise again – leaves us wondering what might happen next. How does the deaf community survive in a world full of bloodthirsty zombies? Keeping this spoiler-free, will a certain someone be able to get their revenge? Given the ridiculous amount of character development and thought-provoking ideas it manages to cover within its 11-minute running time, we can only imagine what the team might be able to achieve with a bigger budget and an extra 80 minutes or so. Fingers crossed DotD gets the attention it deserves, and our questions might be answered in the coming months and years.
DAWN OF THE DEAF / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ROB SAVAGE / STARRING: CAROLINE WARD, STEPHEN COLLINS, HALEY BISHOP, RADINA DRANDOVA / RELEASE DATE: AVAILABLE NOW (VIMEO)