A neurotic spinster must make amends for a forgotten incident in order to rid herself of a childhood ghost.


Writer/director: Dr Donna McRae
Producer: Tait Brady/Acme Film Company
Confirmed cast: Melita Jurisic as Dawn

Proof of concept teaser:

Producer: Bridget MacNamara (for Dreamscreen)
Rylee Lodge as Harriet
DOP – Richard Hosking
1st AD – AZA
Camera assistant – Hannah Jennings
Grip assistant – Martin Anderson
Lighting assistant – Luca Bizzari
Sound recordist – Douglas Bicker
Hair and Makeup – Meg Guthrie
Wardrobe and Props – Kimberley Potts
Production assistant – Kate Murray
VFX – Dan Conway
Technical Director – Aran Morris
Editor – Jamie Blanks
Sound Design – Jamie Blanks


The horror genre presents a rich vein in which to cultivate contemporary ideas and that films with an authentic voice can facilitate this. DAWN, a feature length film, is specifically contributing to the Australian Female Gothic; stories from a deep well of uneasiness and anxiety of living in colonial and modern Australia. Films like Celia, (Turner, 1989), The Well, (Lang, 1997), The Babadook (Kent, 2012), The Nightingale (Kent, 2019), and Relic (James, 2020) speak to this genre_._ These are genre films made about women by women and from a specific place, both physically and metaphorically: the dark heart of colonisation that lies beneath Australian personal and political life.  Characters in Australian Female Gothic narratives are concerned with the messy part of life that is defined by their gender and the place that is accorded to them in a patriarchal society.

DAWN is a curse film, a story about an incident that Dawn caused as a little girl. Now that she is much older, and having just lost her mother, the doors fly open again to release the trauma that she has buried. This trauma arrives in the guise of Harriet, her childhood friend and a really excellent ghost. The story is horror adjacent and chilling, but ultimately DAWN is a compassionate story of the interconnectedness of women, and our fragile but potentially fierce power of love and redemption.

This project will crosspollinate two subgenres of horror – the ghost story and hagsploitation. Hagsploitation, featuring the ‘Psycho Biddy’, is a female centric subgenre which has the capacity to highlight social issues about ageing and decay. As Cynthia Miller and A.B. Van Riper say:  ‘Filmmakers working in the idiom of horror are thus free to push fears about the consequences of ‘aging badly’ to grotesque extremes, and to transmute everyday anxieties into elaborate nightmares’[1] , so using these themes and the horror genre, Dawn represents an overview of contemporary Australia and the way we treat our ageing population.  It also explores homelessness in women over fifty-five and family violence. (According to government research older women—those aged fifty-five and over— was the fastest growing cohort of homeless Australians between 2011 and 2016, increasing by 31%. This trend has continued given the ongoing shortage of affordable housing, the ageing population and the significant gap in wealth accumulation between men and women across their lifetimes).

[1] Miller, J, Cynthia, Van Riper, A.Bowdoin, Elder Horror: Essays on Film’s frightening images of ageing; McFarland, 2019 P3