- Guy Pearce, Alex Pettier, Crystal Yu
- Written by
- Ronan Blaney
- Directed by
- Andrew Baird
- Release Date
- January 19th, 2024
- Run Time
- 1h 24min
Every city or town has at least one, if not more urban legends that are told over campfires or at sleepovers. These legends are told to instill fear and to keep the ones hearing it on the right side of the tracks. I can remember the ones I was told as a kid, that ranged from a Donkey lady, to a school bus of kids who after dying from being hit by a bus, now push cars off those tracks so they don’t meet the same fate. These stories though just don’t scare kids, they can scare adults too, and they’re times when they can make pretty damn good horror films as well.
In a small town in the Northwest, there is a legend of The Red Coat, a demon that has survived centuries on sacrifices given in its name. In this town though, this legend is not the only evil that lurks, Reynolds (Guy Pearce), appears the be in charge and he’s not all that pleasant. He seems to have his eye on a piece of land that a family from China currently owns, and when the husband refuses his offer, he kills him instead. Fast forward three years later and that man’s widow Mrs. Loi (Crystal Yu) now is having to deal with Reynolds’ constant harassment. Mrs. Loi is not the only one in her family that is harassed, so is her son Edward (William Gao), just because he isn’t white. One day though the family finds a new stranger at their house named Fallon (Alex Pettyfer), who looks to be near death when they find him. They take him in and Edward starts helping him regain his health by bringing him blood from some unlucky chickens. It seems Fallon might not be human, and he has his own past with Reynolds, one that is going to come back to haunt Reynolds.
Written by Roman Blaney, Sunrise is a story about racism and hate that drops a vampire in the middle of all of that. This vampire story though isn’t filled with non-stop action nor gory deaths, although some gore does make an appearance. Instead, Sunrise is elevated by its character work, visually stunning locale, and a good story supporting it all. There are elements that are supernatural, as well as small-town life with some nationalism and xenophobia, and while it feels like it wants to say something, whatever it is gets muddled by the films end. Instead, we get a gloomy story that gets stuck and never really draws you in completely.
Sunrise ultimately stands out because of its unique take on the vampire story as well as the excellent character work. With that said, it is not without its flaws, but whatever flaws it has, Sunrise is able to overcome them and delivers some movie moments that are very satisfying. As for the cast, Yu and Pearce stand out, with Pearce playing ‘bad’ oh, so good, making you hope he takes on more roles like this in the future. In the end, Sunrise succeeds one one level as it pulls off a pretty satisfying ending, in a welcomed new entry into vampire cinema.