Dieter and Margot (Frederick von Lüttischau and Louise Taraz) arrive at the old abandoned castle of Margot’s relatives. He plans to fix everything and put the mansion up for sale, she also wants to fix everything, but at the same time stay there to live. One contradiction is superimposed on another, reproach after reproach, quarrel after quarrel, whips, candles, ghosts – and now the spouses are no longer spouses, reality is splitting, a bunch of strangers are found in the house: the night turns into a test of sanity for both heroes and spectators .
Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes is the second feature film by Austrian Kevin Kopaka. He calls his creation a “love letter to horror”, the addressees of the message are mostly in the field of European b-movies of the 1970s. It is not surprising that at the European horror festivals, the director broke the bank – 10 victories in various countries, and these are only those that imdb took into account.
Unfortunately, the author’s desire to confess the tender feelings of each of the films remembered from childhood is so strong that it does not allow a single sprout of originality to break through. The inevitable seams between Rollin and Fassbinder are generously filled with molasses of irony, the main characters choose their own ending in the course of the action, endlessly hint at the director behind the scenes, in general, almost wink from the screen.
However, this is a wonderful stylization, in many ways even exemplary: you want to save every frame, starting with the credits, and the continuous change of tone, coupled with a comfortable timing (only 75 minutes), does not let you get bored. Someone can enjoy watching how an old-fashioned gothic horror turns into an acid trip, someone will list references – here is Bava, and here is Bergman, and here in general Gaspar Noe and Drew Goddard. To the inevitable question “where is Kopaka?” there is no answer, and an hour after the start, the film is framed in the essay “what I watched this summer”, which in itself is not bad and not good, but somewhat disappointing.
The roots of this picture sprout just from those times when Kopaka had to write essays – the childhood impression of a book found in the attic with a terrible torn cover was so strong that it passed through the years. Or it was composed on the fly as a good answer to the most obvious and expected question about sources of inspiration: “Seen in my deep childhood, the cover of a storybook with a woman in a nightgown changed my whole life, that’s how I learned about gothic horrors.”
In addition to directing, Kopaka is engaged in painting, one of his canvases, Everybody here wants you, even involved in the film, hangs in one of the living rooms of the castle. Before the release of the first feature film, Kopaka made clips, advertisements, campaign videos, short documentaries about where his own childhood went, in general, he obviously did not exist in a vacuum. And it is quite possible that, having closed numerous gestalts and paid tribute to everything that made him himself, he will go further and the following films will no longer be Frankensteins collected from other films, but at least a little touch, if not with the real world, then at least with human emotions. Or, on the contrary, they will become even more closed “things in themselves”, stop winking from the screen and be closer to a video essay than to traditional cinema. Both would be much more interesting than homage for the sake of homage, which Kopaka offered the viewer in 2022.