A mother and her 8-year-old son struggle to survive in a bomb shelter after an unnamed apocalypse.
*Warning – Minor Spoilers*
I was not prepared. I was nowhere near prepared. Writer/Director Mike Lombardo and executive producer Brian Keene have created a masterpiece of melancholy you are not soon to forget.
Although notably low-budget and very much an indie production, calling I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday a B-movie is simply an injustice. It would fit perfectly with the slew of fantasy and horror films Netflix has been releasing of late. The film captivates from the first act and takes the viewer on a journey of misery and despair. Whilst technically a post-apocalyptic film, I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday is more of a surreal survivalist horror that induces dread, desperation, and tension from start to tearful finish. You have been warned.
The film revolves around the Enck family, who have been fortunate enough to survive what seems to be some kind of nuclear holocaust. Living in a basement/fallout shelter with a dwindling supply of food, the family is forced to set out, from time to time, into the wasteland to scavenge for supplies. When the father (Damian Maffei as Simon) fails to return home, and with the canned goods near depleted, Kelly (Hope Bikle) decides to set out on a run to make a memorable Christmas for her son, Riley (Reeve Blazi).
The set is fantastic in the classical sense of the word. The atmosphere is morbid, cold and unnerving — as any dead world should be. The scenes are masterfully crafted and the score befitting an apocalypse. There is a sense of constant unease that permeates the world of the film and it draws you in, unsettling and intriguing you.
The acting, especially Hope Bikle's performance, was absolutely stellar. She completely personifies the role of the desperate mother making every effort to do her best in an unwinnable situation. Watching her struggle onward, knowing how it all inevitably ends, is gut-wrenching whilst heart-warming, a duality that Lombardo makes splendid use of throughout the film. Blazi's performance was also way above par; his innocence and trust making the film even harder to take in.
Lombardo's use of magical realism — a genre of narrative fiction that combines magical and real elements — was, for me, the most peculiar part of the film, but it is also what sets it apart from its peers. It was seamlessly blended into both the plot and the dystopian landscape and was a twist that you absolutely cannot see coming.
This is not a happy movie. I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday wants to make you feel, but it does not want you to feel good. For a first feature-length production, Lombardo has created something memorable, masterful and miserable — and it is for those reasons that you should see this film. It is not what currently constitutes a horror film, but perhaps modern horror film-makers could take a lesson or two from I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday; a lesson on what real horror is.
I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday had its world premiere at Nightmares Film Festival, where it deservedly won Best Actress and was nominated for Best Midnight Feature. It also won Best FX and Best Picture and was nominated for Best Actress at the NJ Horror Con and Film Festival. If you are in the area, it’s playing next week at Crimson Screen Film Festival where it’s been nominated for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best FX, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography. It was also just accepted into Toronto Indie Horror Film Festival.
Catch the trailer below and some links to help you find out if I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday is playing at a festival near you. If you have the chance, do yourself the misfavour of attending a screening and let Lombardo crush your soul. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid.
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