Tara Barr as the titular character in the short film Dawn
Rose McGowan is best known for her roles in the late-‘90s teen classics Scream and Jawbreaker, but she makes her debut behind the camera in the short film Dawn, the tale of a girl miles away from the bad girls that McGowan perfected. Set in the early 1960s, an era where a celebrity the likes of her former paramour Marilyn Manson would have been inconceivable, McGowan shows a capable hand at telling the story of a young girl who might recoil at the antics of any character the “Charmed” witch has ever played.
As befitting its length, the story of Dawn is a simple one. Innocent teenage girl Dawn (Tara Barr) meets a cute gas station employee (Reiley McClendon) who pressures her into behaving, in the term so often employed during the era, like a juvenile delinquent. Sweet Dawn is soon drinking from a flask and going to the movies with a boy she barely knows, before the night takes a tragic turn.
Dawn has the tone of an educational film from the era, warning of the dangers that teens face when they break the rules, even when it starts with an act as small as shoplifting. In a slightly later era, it would make a perfect After School Special. This does not mean that the film is completely without humor. Any modern film that refers to Tab Hunter’s dating tips for teenage girls and Rock Hudson movies within a five minute span knows just how much it can wink at the audience before that wink turns into a sneer. Despite the period trappings, the film thankfully does not focus too intently on the trappings of the era like the giant Chevrolets and poodle skirts that often create a distance with the audience.
While the film might be slight, Dawn demonstrates that Rose McGowan has a future as a director and that her affinity with teenagers remains as strong in her forties as it did when she was playing them in her late twenties. There may be another Jawbreaker in her future, but this time it may very well be McGowan behind the camera instead of in front of it.
Now available on Rose McGowan’s Official YouTube Channel
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