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COSMIC DAWN (2022)
Directed and written by Jefferson Moneo.
Starring Camille Rowe, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Antonia Zegers, Joshua Burge, Philip Granger, Amy Matysio, Vickie Papavs, John Boylan, Miho Suzuki, Rachel Pellinen, William Sanders
Find out more about this film here!
When Aurora (Camille Rowe) was young, she experienced a cosmic event that resulted in the abduction of her mother. Now an adult, Aurora struggles to some to terms with losing her mom and wonders if it was all just a hallucination. That is until she meets Natalie (Emmanuelle Chriqui) in a book store who is a member of a cult called “The Cosmic Dawn” who is planning for a major cosmic event to occur soon. As Aurora is lead into the world of this cult, she meets cult leader Elyse (Antonia Zegers) who inexplicably knows personal things only Aurora and her mother shared, causing Aurora to fall deeper into the cult’s beliefs. But Aurora still has her doubts and finds that it is extremely hard to quit the cult once a member. With the cosmic event date nearing, Aurora finds herself compelled to find out if the cult a sham or the answers to all of her questions about her missing mother.
COSMIC DAWN is one weird little movie. It’s not necessarily a horror movie, but it does involve cults, aliens, other dimensions, and other trippy elements so it kind of fits into what I call the cinema of the weird. The film does a great job of mapping out how one might be tempted into a cult as it shows how the Cosmic Dawn are able to take advantage of lost and disenfranchised people and bend them to follow their ways. Director and writer Jefferson Moneo flesh out the cult with interesting characters—actors who one might not normally see in a more Hollywood style film. The cult feels genuine as the actors feel like they were chosen because they do look like typical people and not fashion models. It helps make it feel more legitimate and less of a staged production. I wouldn’t say all of the actors were standouts, but they do flesh out this world in a realistic way. It might not be the nicest thing to say, but these actors are what I think of when I hear the word cultist.
The lead roles are better than average. Antonia Zegers has that spacey, intense look of a cult leader who has done the drugs, bought the t-shirt, and lived to tell the tale. Once can see how she might mesmerize a person into following her. I also really liked the lead, Camille Rowe. She has an instant likability that makes you want her to succeed, no matter how off-kilter her mission is. The role of Tom is a strange one, played by the very Eric Bagosian-esque Joshua Burge. He has the hearts of a few of the ladies in this film and I just couldn’t see this strange looking actor as leading man/love interest material. He’s a solid actor, but just didn’t match the role he was supposed to be playing.
COMSIC DAWN spends a lot of time having Aurora getting used to the cult and all of its trippy ways. This means lots of lectures, rules, regimens, habits being broken and formed, and of course, lots of trippy, hippie, transcendental singing. MGMT provides the bulk of the songs for this film, which lends to the otherworldly feel. There is an song called that turns out to be an old Carpenters song called “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” that burrowed into my brain and has yet to leave. It’s a fun trippy song (check out the link to the song here if you dare) that kind of captures the feel of the entire movie. This isn’t necessarily a film about the horrors of cults. It actually kind of embraces some of the positive aspects of it, believe it or not.
This is a truly odd film. I didn’t love it. But I can’t get it out of my brain. It’s outlook on the world is truly unique as is its unconventional message. At times, it’s uplifting. At times, it’s depressing. At times, it’s downright disturbing. It’s just a trippy film with some solid performances and weird messages. If you’re looking for an unconventional look at cults, UFO’s, and alien abduction, this might be the one you’ve been pining for, even if you didn’t know it.