Just Before Dawn - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Just Before Dawn Reviews

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September 29, 2018
After decades of watching horror movies I didn't think there were any good ones from the 80s left for me to see. But after reading plenty of glowing reviews for the tough-to-find 80s slasher, Just Before Dawn, my interest was peaked and my expectations raised. The movie starts off quite well with some gorgeous locations, an extremely gory kill and a wonderfully creepy score from Brad Fiedel. The characters, although rather bland, aren't the stereotypes we usually see in these movies, and the acting is better than it has any right to be. The film's greatest strength is the atmosphere utilized from the beautiful/terrifying Oregon locations. Countless horror movies have been set deep in the woods, but Just Before Dawn does a terrific job of making you believe you'll never escape them. Unfortunately after a great set-up it all goes downhill rather quickly. The gore vanishes, the characters get dumber, the pace gets slower, and there are numerous suspenseful buildups with no payoff. It also doesn't help that the killer turns out to be a backwoods version of Homer Simpson. I'm sure if I'd seen this as a kid it would've freaked me out, but adult me was bored out of his mind.
½ February 11, 2018
For those who say that this pic is formulaic, it does have some classic elements of the slasher genre, but it relies more on atmosphere and characters slowly losing there minds, to scare you, rather than brutal, bloody deaths. For a slasher movie, the violence is soft enough, and the killers don't wear any masks, which makes Just Before Dawn a quite different movie, for the time. And even though there isn't any music during the intense scenes, which would've helped, it's a spooky film, and if you watch it with an open mind, it should be a pleasant little horror experience. Worth a look!!
August 28, 2017
Solid 80's slasher flick.
January 12, 2017
Genre director Jeff Lieberman gives us a pretty solid little backwoods slasher, and I dug it quite a bit, low-budget roots and all

It's indeed well worth a trip into the woods, to check out a property with friends and see what the mongoloid local who doesn't take kindly to new faces might be up to, y'know?

October 13, 2016
Better than your average slasher in the woods film from the early 80's and the only which boasts an actor with the pedigree of George Kennedy. Here, a group of young adults in a RV travel to see a property in the mountains one of them just acquired but the group becomes unwelcomed visitors to a local mountain family.
½ April 15, 2016
Coalesces the archetypes of Friday the 13th with the atmosphere of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
March 20, 2016
A wonderful surprise. It doesn't reinvent the slasher by any means but it's one of the best of the genre, putting more focus in a rich atmosphere rather than numerous graphic kills. Though the actual print quality available is poor, it's well shot and the score is chilling.
½ June 20, 2015
A cross between Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
½ February 19, 2015
Despite having been released in the golden years of the slasher style movie, Just Before Dawn transcends that monicker by leaps and bounds. Yes there is a killer lurking in the woods, and yes, the campers are dispatched one at a time, but there is so much more to this movie.

The scenery is absolutely gorgeous and the characters are good as well. Not just the usual cardboard cutouts that this genre usually has. Genuinely interesting and smart characters.

This movie is a real gem.
½ October 8, 2014
Very effective horror thriller in the vein of Deliverance. One of the few later movies that George Kennedy didn't seem out of place and one of the few where the "kids" are not incredibly stupid. It's great to have people make rational choices as opposed to traditional "let's hide in the basement" decisions.
½ May 27, 2014
would have been great if had more gore...
½ May 12, 2013
A fine overlooked slasher film that, much like Halloween, relies more on atmosphere and a good soundtrack than on blood and guts.
April 19, 2013
Slow moving but solid creepy backwoods slasher from the early 80s. The films killers are overweight, inbred, creepy, twin brother mountain men who terrorize a group of yuppie campers up in the mountains. The kinda slasher movie where you don't really care about the campers who are on their self indulgent vacations, who only serve as annoying set pieces that make you route for their deaths. The film is very slow moving at parts but if you stick around till the very end...your pay off will be worth the wait.
½ March 19, 2013
Just Before Dawn is one of the most boring slasher movies that I think I've ever seen. Now I'm not one to cry out for constant gore or killing, but this movie needed something to keep things interesting. The acting is pretty awful, as are the actors themselves. I absolutely hated Deborah Benson in this thing, and I wanted somebody to punch her in the face. She had about as much facial expression as a blank wall. Everyone else just seems to be along for the slasher ride. It doesn't help that the characters are boring and uninteresting, and there's hardly any suspense at all. They try to build it up, but fail at it. This movie comes off like a mix of everything that was popular at the time: The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Friday the 13th. The latter may not be much of an influence on the film being that they were released the same year, but you can't deny the similarities. I'd say just skip the movie altogether. Outside of a couple of unique death sequences, it lacks nearly anything that makes a slasher enjoyable.
½ March 19, 2013
Those Muttley noises that the killers make are horrifying.
January 6, 2013
One of the best horror movies from the early 1980's. Just as atmospheric and eerie as when I first seen it over 30 years ago.
October 31, 2012
Before the shitstorm that was Wrong Turn there was this creepy little feature..it's all about atmosphere something the Wrong Turn films and everything like them forget to add..

I think 'super reviwer' John M should shut the fuck up before down rating a great movie like this.
August 5, 2012
Forget about Jason and his mother for "Just Before Dawn" is a backwoods slasher that came out the same year as "Friday The 13th" and is a better film. One of the reasons "Just Before Dawn" never garnered the fan base that the "Friday the 13th" series has is, sadly, mostly due to the lack of a hockey mask or, rather, the backstory for the villain who would later don one. It's a shame because "Just Before Dawn" has the mood and location that is essential for this sub-genre of slashers, to say nothing of the unforgettable campfire/fistful finale and the brutal murder sequences. Every cliche associated with backwoods slashers is present; however one only has to look at the year-of-release to dismiss these annoyance (the eccentric warnings from rednecks about the camper's upcoming deaths; characters that dance the idiotic with death) and sit back with a red-tipped paper or box of cold ones and enjoy - no cerebral wiring necessary.

"Just Before Dawn" is, at its best, a fun, if at times slow-burning, summer-slasher from the 1980's that isn't the classic "The Burning" is but is exceptional at what it set out to do while never ripping off "Bay of Blood" once.

Track this one down before summer's end.
July 24, 2012
A moody slasher film with a twist that actually explains the biggest slasher cliche of all: why is the killer so good at killing.
March 18, 2012
As far as the inbred, mongoloid killers in the woods genre goes, I would have to put Just Before Dawn right at the top. Its story is pretty much the standard: A group of young friends go into the woods for some fun, and end up being hunted by these inbred murderers. Jeff Lieberman is a very observant filmmaker, really focusing on the details of things, which actually raises the tension a lot, particularly in this film. The best example of this involves a scene were the kids are crossing over a cliff, via rope bridge. The camera continually focuses on the immediate danger of the situation, at one point even slowly panning all the way from the bottom of the cliff up to the rope swing, showing us gravity of the situation. The film has a lot of violence but it's not exploitative at all, and really doesn't have much gore at all. Instead, it focuses solely on creating a creepy atmosphere and it's more affective than most slashers because of it. The mumbling, squealing pig type sounds coming from these Inbred Mongoloids is just unnerving and creepy as shit. Another rare thing for a film like this to accomplish is giving the viewer a true sense of trauma and loss; and this film really does accomplish it. Towards the end of the film, you really feel that these events will haunt the survivor(s) for the rest of their lives, leaving them changed men/women.
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