Review: Sunrise


There is a legend in the forestlands of the Pacific Northwest of a creature called The Red Coat. This creature lives on the blood of forest animals and, when it can, that of humans. At least, so believes Ma Reynolds.

Ma (Olwen Fouere – “The Northman”) and her son (Guy Pearce – “The Rover”) are racists in a dying Northwest town. Factories are closing, people are losing jobs and, worst of all, “other” people are moving in. This enrages the Reynolds, who talk about “respect” for themselves while disrespecting and even killing people they consider inferior to themselves.

Together, they try to force an Asian family off their farm. They begin by killing the husband, and then turn on the widow, Yan Loi (Crystal Yu – “Deus”) and her children.

As this conflict is building, a ragged stranger (Alex Pettyfer – “Elvis & Nixon”) stumbles out of the forest and is taken in by the Yan family. This mystery man is filthy and weak, and lives off the chicken blood the Yans give him. Gradually, he regains his strength and becomes the savior of the immigrant family. But who – or what – is he?

Writer and Oscar nominee Ronan Blaney (“Boogaloo and Graham”) has come up with an interesting premise for a backwoods monster. And he has written interestingly about a dying towns racist human monster epitomized by the Reynolds. However, the overall result is far from satisfactory. Whether this is the fault of Blaney’s script or execution by director Andrew Baird, or even bad (very bad) editing by Helen Sheridan and John Walters, the result is a story bereft of cohesion and even straightforward exposition. If it is an issue of editing, at least there is the hope for a more coherent re-cut.

There are a few bright sparks in this otherwise muddy tale. Pearce’s soliloquy of hatred and despair at a funeral, and Yan’s heartbroken attempts to keep her family together come to mind. Otherwise, this a stillborn tale of a white man struggling brutally to maintain his family’s place in a present based on a past that probably never even existed.

There are some beautiful wilderness shots in this Northern Ireland filmed effort, but they only confound the misfire that is this project. That a significant studio like Lionsgate would put their name on this distribution is amazing.

I don’t say this often, but don’t waste your time or money on this disappointment.

Runtime: One hour, 34 minutes
Availability: Theaters and Streaming on Jan. 19, 2024

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