A Closer Look At Rose McGowan's Dawn

The 1960s never seemed creepier than in Rose McGowan’s haunting short film, Dawn (2014). McGowan, whose long acting résumé includes roles on TV megahits like Once Upon a Time and Law and Order: SVU decided to take her passion for storytelling behind the camera, turning the lens on the mid-twentieth century’s stifling traditionalism and confused ideals of femininity. Dawn delivers a brief yet eerie portrait of an ingenuous young woman who dares to assert her will beyond the grip of patriarchy — and the disastrous consequences that follow.

If the character Dawn is marked by constraint and indecision, McGowan’s role in shaping her film was just the opposite. Taking the lead on the set design process, McGowan transformed her heroine’s world into a bubblegum-pink embodiment of the '60s obsession with order. Moving through this bright landscape of neat ranch houses, pleated skirts, and sleek, new furniture, the film clearly reflects the post-war craving for a return to convention.

But when Dawn meets a strikingly handsome football player at her local gas station, and is immediately forbidden by her mother to see him again, her carefully manicured life slips into chaos. While reading up on dating advice in a stolen magazine, she encounters the beguiling suggestion that, “it’s nice when a girl is curious and asks questions, but not too many questions.” Torn between her hesitancy to break her parents' rules and a consuming desire for adventure, Dawn relents to the strange boy's suggestion that they take a car ride together. After that night, Dawn's quiet life will never be the same again. Sadly, in her attempt to claim autonomy over her life, she was further sank under the indomitable control of men.

Dawn takes a sharp look at the contradictory messages that weave together our ideas of "femininity," and the perils that face those brave enough to challenge them. We’re proud to feature McGowan's masterfully subversive directorial début. Watch the entire film above.

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