Drew Casson: The Darkest Dawn

drew-casson-cropLocal young filmmaker Drew Casson has just premiered his latest film, The Darkest Dawn, at London Comic Con 2016.

22 year old Director Drew Casson has been making YouTube videos since he was twelve. After painting his mother’s shed for a green screen and borrowing his Dad’s handycam, Drew set about making Hollywood special effects epics from his house in Hungerford. One of his early films, a Harry Potter tribute, attracted the attention of the powers-that-be who were convinced that this was member of their crew moonlighting. Luckily Drew had the letter from his headmaster giving his permission to use the John O’Gaunt School hall and they called the dogs off…

darkest-dawn-shootAfter leaving John O’Gaunt, Drew was offered a place at film school but chose instead to continue making his own films with a tightly knit group of friends – as creator, director, actor, editor and special effects supervisor. Wildseed Studios soon discovered Drew and helped him produce a 90 minute, special effects-heavy horror sci-fi about Hungerford being taken over by aliens. This micro-budget production was shot in 9 days with an unknown, largely amateur cast but with Drew’s usual layer of horror, stunning special effects and action. Entitled Hungerford, it’s also a coming of age story, shot vlog style, where a group of kids need to decide if they are going to waste away in small town or break out and be who they really can be.

The film went on to win at Berlin Independent Film Festival, as Porto Film Festival, and premiered at the British Film Institute last May – making Drew the youngest director on record to have a feature screened there.

The Darkest Dawn

darkest-dawn-cast-cropThe Darkest Dawn, the second film in the award-winning Hungerford franchise, stars major UK-based YouTube stars Bethan Leadley, Cherry Wallis and Stuart Ashen.

The film follows Chloe Murdoch who receives a camera on her 16th birthday and uses that camera to film her life. A short way into the film, Chloe and her family are forced to leave their home after an alien invasion which involves giant spaceships flying overhead, dropping small, spider-like things, which we later know to be called ‘bugs’ which attach themselves to a human host, rendering them zombie-esque and extremely violent. The rest of the film consists of Chloe filming her and her sister’s attempts for survival in the hellish aftermath of the alien invasion. During the film, Chloe and her sister join up with Cowen (played by Drew), Adam and Kipper, the three protagonists from the last film, who are searching for Adam’s sister and Cowen’s girlfriend, Philippa, who went missing at the end of Hungerford. The group then spends the rest of the film trying to find Philippa and to survive against multiple threats, not only alien, but human as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Darkest Dawn, and I was able to see how far Drew had come as a director. The whole film is in a ‘found footage’ style, just like the previous film, which gave it an added sense of authenticity and immersion. Also, it was a fresh format for a film as there haven’t been many found footage films that have come out recently, at least not since the Blair Witch Project Sequel in September. The film captured a sense of terror which is rare, with varied antagonists threatening their search for Philippa and their lives. The characters were well portrayed with the rogue army officer, Hopper, being my favourite character, for his style and unpredictability.

My only criticism of The Darkest Dawn is that it was sometimes too fast-paced, not allowing the audience to catch up and understand fully what was happening.

darkest-dawn-3I would recommend The Darkest Dawn to any Sci Fi fan or anyone who has enjoyed Drew’s work in the past. It is a showcase of his skills that he has learnt on his journey from making YouTube videos filmed in his back garden to this and is a brilliant demonstration of what talent Berkshire has to offer (including my younger brother Toby who plays the boy who lures our three heros off their boat).

The film is available on iTunes – see preview here or from Amazon

If you like the film, please support Drew by reviewing it on imdb !

 

Adam Quinn

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