Shame on me for getting my hopes up too significantly when I noticed MGMT was doing the music for this strange sci-fi movie—Cosmic Dawn is an uneven, tonally confused abduction mystery. I am not quite sure what it is, but alien movies are overflowing with possibilities, yet nearly always leave me feeling underwhelmed. A true epic, such as 2002 miniseries Taken, has rarely been attempted since. Cosmic Dawn does, at least, try something different by formulating a sort of cult worshipping the aliens. I will never hear “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” in quite the same way.
Way back in June 1997, Aurora’s mother was abducted, and promptly “disappeared.” Now years later, after drugs and therapy, Aurora (Camille Rowe) turns to unexplained phenomena books for answers. The Equinox bookstore’s kindly owner, Natalie (Emmanuelle Chriqui), takes an interest in Aurora when she notices her frequenting the store. This turns out to be Aurora’s entry into the so-called Cosmic Dawn cult. Their fearless leader, the alluring and strange Elyse (Antonia Zegers), appears to have knowledge of every person’s abduction encounter. “The blood moon brought us here… like a magnetic force,” Elyse tells her group of blind followers.
For me, my biggest problem here is that Cosmic Dawn accomplishes very little in the way of extinguishing its timelines from one another. From the first time we meet this cult, we are also following a concurrent four-year-later time jump with Aurora at the helm. It stays borderline confusing through the majority of the runtime, until the final act unravels what has come before. There are answers, but most of these answers just constitute a chunk of the mess.
As previously mentioned, the film’s music by MGMT, and score from composer Alan Howarth, are excellent. The cinematography is also rather impressive, crafting a movie that is very pretty to look at. Renovations of an old tunnel system lead Aurora on a journey as she sinks deeper into the grasp of the cult. If only the actual narrative matched the strength of its actors, 80s retro, impactful visuals, and abduction-fueled conspiracy theories.
Cosmic Dawn debuts theatrically and on Video on Demand on Friday, February 11th.