Eye For Film >> Movies >> Dawn Of The Deaf (2016) Film Review
Dawn Of The Deaf
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Deafness has a cultural value in the right community; it provides a shared perspective, a way of connecting with the world that hearing people never experience. In mainstream society, however, deafness can be difficult. Dawn Of The Deaf offers insight into some of the challenges experienced as a result, before taking a science fiction twist that will send shivers down your spine.
A girl tries to talk to her mother but only her father can see her signs, and he lies about what she's saying, wanting to isolate her for the worst reasons. A man addresses a meeting, talking about how important it is for him to use his own voice, and about the stigma he has faced because of the way he sounds. Two women try to repair their struggling relationship, but it's still easier for someone to refuse to look than to refuse to listen; at the heart of it is the shame one of them feels at her difference (whether her deafness, her sexuality or both is deliberately left unclear), and the other's unwillingness to buy into that second class status.
Every dog will have its day, goes the saying that John Wyndham referenced in Day Of The Triffids, where a blinding meteor storm gave plants their shot at world domination and gave the previously blind a distinct survival advantage. Might a similar event give deaf people their moment? When a sonic pulse comes out nowhere and hearing people fall to the ground, blood pouring from their ears, it seems as if the moment might have come. After what we've already seen, there's an elements of satisfaction, a sense that some of them have got what they deserved. But to be a survivor creates another kind of isolation, and as the title suggests, there's worse; when the fallen start to rise, brain damaged, they're hungry for human flesh.
The final moments of this film, as bodies shamble out of the shadows, capture the real darkness of the zombie genre in a way that recalls the best of George Romero's work. Perhaps it's because they share a certain social resonance. Is the real horror starting now, or have we been witnessing something similarly inhuman all along? Are deaf people - and others outcast by society - surviving day to day by exercising the same kind of defensiveness and hyperawareness required to survive a zombie movie?
Dawn Of The Deaf invites hearing people to make this connection with sufficient subtlety and elegance that many seem to have missed the point entirely. It's a bleak tale but is also, in its way, celebratory. Much of what draws people to zombie films is celebration of resilience. Why don't we notice it going on around us all the time?Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2017