21 June 2024
Just Before Dawn (1981)
90 min.
Directed by Jeff Lieberman.
With George Kennedy, Deborah Benson, Chris Lemmon, Gregg Henry, Jamie Rose, Mike Kellin, Ralph Seymour, John Hunsaker.
An underappreciated, well crafted backwoods slasher from low budget director Lieberman (1976's Squirm).

A group of campers travel deep into the Oregon mountains, en route to a piece of land one of them has inherited.

But once within the untamed woods, a hulking killer stalks them like wild animals of prey...one by one.

Will the relatively helpless youngsters learn the art of animal survival before it's too late?

Sounds formulaic. And it is. But there's something about this "little horror film that could" which transcends its limitations on nearly every front.

Owing a debt of gratitude to John Boorman's Deliverance and nicely endowed with a bevy of conventional killer-in-the-woods motifs, this exceptional horror easily musters a unique seriousness all its own.

Well acted by its fresh young cast (especially lead Benson) and enhanced by the absolutely beautiful raw scenery.

Also boasts a clever twist on the killer's 'two places at once' mechanism. And how about that out-of-this-world finale? Knuckle sandwich, anyone?

A must see.

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