The debut film from acclaimed actress Rose McGowan is a about 17 minutes in run-time, and each and every second of that is spent masterfully building to a climax that will strip you of your idea of innocence in the early 1960's America.
It's very hard to believe that this is from a first time director. Albeit Rose McGowan has been acting for over 20 years, and has been around some terrific directors in her career. Wes Craven, Brian DePalma, Robert Rodriguez, and Tarantino are a few that stick out; however, I think more importantly than seeing some of the greats in action is that Rose is a cinephile herself. There's absolutely no substitute for watching and studying great films when it comes to understanding filmmaking. Rose considers her inspiration for crafting Dawn to be a mix of The Parent Trap (1961), Night of the Hunter, a little Hemingway storytelling, and "the loneliness of a Edward Hopper painting."
The cinematography is superb - the music, the acting, the dialogue and the production design, which Rose did herself, are all on point. Some of the subtle nuances, such as the Tab Hunter song and the Rock Hudson movie, are all foreshadowing the guy who's not quite what he seems. In a recent interview with Indiewire Rose states, "Every single thing you put on the screen should have value." I could not agree more, and Dawn represents that in spades.
Now I didn't see this written or spoken from McGowan herself, but apparently this story has a little inspiration from the lore of early 1960's American serial killer Charles Schmid. I had never heard of Schmid myself, but a quick investigation on wikipedia and I found this to be accurate. As not only is the story matching, even the name Mary French holds a connection. He was called "The Pied Piper of Tucson".
For a little extra reading into the story of Dawn and Rose McGowan check out this interview she did a few weeks back with Indiewire.
She's got her first feature on the horizon shooting in October, and I for one can't wait.