Sexploitation cinema’s latest entry Gone by Dawn boasts bare bodies as if its already waving down Mr. Skin for a year-end top prize in nudity. However, don’t be fooled by this skin flick. Even though the film prides itself on sex appeal, there’s something more meaningful underneath it all.
While Gone by Dawn flaunts sleazy thrills, there’s a sincere standout message about feeling disposable in an adult industry. The film’s leading ladies (Hannah Fierman, Katelyn Pearce, Saleste Mele) play popular exotic dancers who are feeling betrayed when given an ultimatum: give customers full control or get out. The club’s manager Stag (played by Jayson Therrien) enforces this pressure for lucrative purposes for his business. Later, we observe how his apathetic decisions earn him power trips – added bonuses for Stag. Gone by Dawn takes place around spiralling chaos that happens over a couple of days when Stag’s behaviour becomes uncontrollable and the girls have had enough.
Of course, I could be reading into Shaun Donnelly’s film too deeply. However, the filmmaker’s execution of a climactic assault which presents itself as upsetting trauma instead of over-the-top schlock issues confidence behind my claim. Donnelly is able to put his camp on hold to raise the film’s voice, and all three actresses – all very good in their roles – are always on the same page.
All of these positives are almost undercut by Gone by Dawn’s SAW-lite revenge plot which involves the dancers planning to get even with Stag and organizing a robbery. Luckily, the sting is ridiculously amusing and successfully obtains its desired quota of groans and shrieks. An apparent downside is when the film becomes too talky for its own good with some dialogue (written by Donnelly and Jeffrey Brown) being too obvious with how characters present themselves (Reamonn Joshee plays an antagonist who is a little too on the nose and Brenna-Lynn Jonasson apparently traded in clothes for exposition).
Gone by Dawn may appear as a movie destined to be viewed through scrambled cable, but there’s much more to it; including some unnecessary twists that are about as thin as a g-string.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie