What does an inexplicable series of lights flashing, a cafe, a group of people crying all have in common?
They inspired filmmaker, Jefferson Moneo to write and direct his second feature film, Cosmic Dawn.
I watched the film and interviewed Moneo to discuss his film.
Cosmic Dawn is about a young woman, Aurora played by Camille Rowe who witnessed her mother be abducted by flashes of light from space as a child. Now, she is trying to live her life while everyone believes her mother had just died.
Then she meets Natalie (Emmanuelle Chriqui) who introduces her to a group of people who witnessed other UFO like abductions. They are members of “The Cosmic Dawn” headed by a matriarch, Elyse (Antoina Zegers).
At first, it seems like she finally found a group that gets her, a home. Then of course, things get weird. Tom, another member of the group shares his doubts. Aurora teams up with Tom to find out the truth. Is Elyse a cult leader and they are in a dangerous cult or are they really able to communicate with intelligent life in outer space?
Without giving spoilers, I say that I liked how they portrayed a person’s belief system being shaken. How do you cope when no one else believes what you saw? And if they do believe you, then can you trust them after so many say the opposite.
Throughout the film, the musical score is always apparent and makes you feel uneasy. It was one of the first things I noticed while watching. The score keeps you feel on edge when on screen, it is seems pretty simplistic. Aurora goes to a bookstore, talks to Natalie, is having a meal with the Cosmic Dawn group. The score keeps you feeling unsure if everything is really getting better.
Moneo shared that the score was composed by Alan Howarth who use to work with the legendary John Carpenter. Along with Howarth, original music from MGMT is featured and band member, Andrew VanWyngarden also helped with parts of the score.
I asked Moneo what inspired him to show a female cult leader, something we don’t see often in films or hear about in cult documentaries. He explained that he wanted Aurora to find comfort and be able to trust this person faster. If it was a male leader, there would always be a part of Aurora and the audience expecting some sexual advances that could happen. She had lost her mother so if she found a woman who took charge and care of her, she and therefore the audience can keep that in mind. It was a smart move. Zegers voice is soothing with her slight Chilean accent apparent but her eyes keep you on your toes as to if she is a crazy cult leader or is she actually who she says and believes she is.
The film is now on-demand so I encourage you to check it out. Here is the trailer:
All images from the film’s IMDb Page.