DAWN BREAKS BEHIND THE EYES (2021) Reviews of Gothic horror

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Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes is a 2021 German mystery horror film about a bickering couple who inherit a dilapidated castle.

Directed and edited by Kevin Kopacka (Hager) from a screenplay co-written with Lili Villányi, the movie stars Jeff Wilbusch, Anna Platen, Frederik von Lüttichau and Luisa Taraz. Co-produced by Kevin Kopacka and Lili Villányi.

Having just inherited a run-down castle, a dispirited woman and her ill-tempered husband decide to spend the night, as time and reality slowly start to shift around them…


“What begins as a bizarre, disjointed movie that favors style over coherent story quickly gives way to something far more unexpected and more extensive in scope. In other words, it’s a gorgeous, ethereal movie full of surprising twists that deftly shift genres. This gem was easily a fest highlight.” Bloody Disgusting

“This movie makes no sense on paper, and can only be described as a few very distinct moods […] I know Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes is not for everyone, and the re-watch value is probably pretty low, but it is so bizarre that you have to respect it. It is more of an experience and vibe than a movie.” Dread Central

“Jeff Wilbusch as Gregor is a particular standout and I thought the performance of Luisa Taraz as Margot was very strong too. Honestly, there was no weak link in the cast so all involved should be applauded. Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes is incredibly ambitious and for the most part, it succeeds.” Entertainment Focus

“It’s perfectly moody and atmospheric with a stunning aesthetic from start to finish and it plays with the genre in similar ways to One Cut of the Dead but by way of Mario Bava and with an exceptional feminist lean. It’s stunning to look at, utterly captivating to watch, and beautifully paced at a brisk 72 minutes.” /Film

“Impeccably constructed, with As Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes Kevin Kopacka has created a film whose beauty is more than skin deep. Stunning visuals pair with immaculate sound design and a clever score to create the safest space for this haunting tale of eternity and duality to unfold.” The Hollywood News

“The lack of narrative drive – and occasionally even coherency – will mark Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes as one for the cinephiles only. It’s slight and, at 73 minutes (including credits) doesn’t purport to be anything but. Some viewers may find themselves frustrated by the film’s artifice and structure, but it’s an interesting experiment in style and tone.” Horror DNA

“This gothic/psychedelic mood piece has a Cattet-Forzani feel, though it’s also fairly slight – full of evocative images and memorable sounds, but much stronger on mood than anything like narrative.” The Kim Newman Website

“All narrative rigidity is jettisoned as stuffy ballast in a trippy realm where personal interpretation is king. Anyone with even a cursory affection for the work of exploitation heavyweights Argento, Bava, and Rollin will adore immersing themselves in this modernised miasma of idiosyncratic eroticism and shock tactic violence.” The People’s Movies

“The film is accompanied by a wonderfully haunting score that perfectly exemplifies how the moment should feel. It’s also held up by the performances of its leads and boasts gorgeous cinematography. The film in a nutshell is really about the complexities of relationships, love and forgiveness. To say we thoroughly enjoyed our viewing experience is an understatement.” Slay Away

Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes had its world premiere at the Popcorn Frights film festival in Florida.

The movie was also shown at the 2021 Arrow Video FrightFest in London on August 28th.

In the US, Dark Sky Films will release the film on Digital on June 24, 2022.

Director Kevin Kopacka commented: “Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes is my love letter to Gothic horror films of the 60s and 70s, drawing inspiration from classics such as Mario Bava’s The Whip and the Body or Jean Rollin’s The Iron Rose with a dash of obscure humour in the vein of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s films such as Satan’s Brew and Chinese Roulette.”

Cast and characters:
Anna Platen … Eva Ziehnagel
Jeff Wilbusch … Gregor Grause
Frederik von Lüttichau … Dieter Menliff / Klaus Moltke
Luisa Taraz … Margot Menliff / Lilith Tarenbach
Robert Nickisch … Rolf
Elena Gomez Alvarez … Marion
Bill Becker … Sandwich
Christopher Ramm … Willi
Max Cramer … Bernd

Technical details:
1 hour 13 minutes

Alternate title:
Hinter den Augen die Dämmerung



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