From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn ★★★★½

Directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk Till Dawn sees two criminal brothers (George Clooney & Quentin Tarantino) and a family they have taken hostage (Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis & Ernest Liu) have to team up after unknowingly seeking refuge in a truck stop populated by vampires.

Rodriguez’ direction and creative editing techniques paired with Tarantino’s reliably sharp and witty dialogue really makes this an absolute blast of self-aware schlock horror black comedy action with some genuinely disturbing and brutal moments. What the film manages to do very well is take two different genres and make the transition between them feel natural and what I appreciated even more was the characters just go along with it and instantly accept the reality that vampires happen to inhabit this truck stop.

The first half of the film is a crime thriller road  trip that is genuinely tense and savage at times, we spend time with the brothers, learn their personalities and traits and are thrown right into the middle of their situation as they take the Fuller family hostage. Once at the truck
stop though the film goes full grindhouse horror comedy with lashings of gore, slime and limbs flying all over the place. The practical effects team deserve a huge amount of praise for the unique vampire designs, making them more bat/rat looking in their facial features and though the CGI elements are dated they work well here within the film. The weapons and prop designs are also excellent and the stake drill is a genius idea.

Rodriguez’ direction is solid and his editing techniques are brilliant, he also clearly takes inspiration and influence from his writer and star’s own directorial techniques such, with very Tarantino-esque zooms and camera swoops. The set designs are impressive and detailed, especially the ‘Titty Twister’ truck stop, which blends Gothic and Western influences and immediately feels like a place that could be run by vampires. The rock soundtrack fits perfectly with the attitude and tone of the film.

Though the characters aren’t the deepest or most developed, they are engaging due to the performances and screenplay. It’s great and refreshing seeing Clooney in a genuinely bad person role and he nails the dialogue delivery and screen presence of the part, despite being a director/writer first, Tarantino is also entertaining as his psychotic brother and nails the creepy unpredictable nature of the character. Harvey Keitel is excellent in a more subtle and calmed role (until the finale when he is wielding a shotgun cross) as an ex-priest and father. Juliette Lewis goes from scared young woman to crossbow toting badass and Salma Hayek is dangerously beautiful as one of the resident exotic dancer vampires. Tom Savini, Danny Trejo & Fred Williamson also deliver in supporting roles.

From Dusk Till Dawn delivered exactly what I wanted from it. It knows exactly what type of film it is and takes it to maximum level. The screenplay is witty and features a tonne of stellar Tarantino lines, chaotic fight sequences with impressive practical effects and memorable kills all solidly directed by Rodriguez. 

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