I’M DREAMING OF A WHITE DOOMSDAY
Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Reel Splatter Productions and Writer/Director, Mike Lombardo for allowing me early access to an online screener of his debut feature-length film “I’m Dreaming Of A White Doomsday”. I’m Dreaming Of A White Doomsday (aside from being quite the lengthy title) is a Christmas themed post-apocalyptic/horror film about the lives of a mother (played by first-timer Hope Bikle) and her 8-year-old son Riley (Reeve Blazi) as they fight for their survival in the wake of an end of the world apocalypse. The film also stars Damian Maffei (The Strangers: Prey At Night), Holly Andrew, and Shannon Moyer.
The hand-drawn poster art for Lombardo’s holiday-themed survival film is what initially caught my eye. I didn’t know much about the film going in, but the combination of the end of the world and the holiday season makes for an interesting premise. Now, I’ve reviewed some pretty good post-apocalyptic films over the years, Brett Bentman’s “Apocalypse Road” *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/apocalypse-road-review/ is one that comes to mind. In spite of its micro-budget price tag, I’m Dreaming Of A White Doomsday manages to get a fair bit right. The film opens with an abundance of establishing shots showcasing some impressive decorations and Christmas set design. Lombardo managed to do this with less than 5 percent of the budget spent on John Carpenter’s “Halloween”. It begs the question, Where were your decorations, John? (sorry folks and Halloween fanboys but it had to be said haha). Dylan Stern-Courney’s camera work is pretty solid. He employs some nice panning techniques and gentle zooming here and there, as well as opting for plenty of tripod shots in the latter half of the film. The audio track is clean and the score implements a touch of the holiday jingles without overstating it. The highlight is a haunting synth piece that reminded me somewhat of the key theme in Brad Anderson’s masterpiece, “The Machinist”. The art department also deserves some credit for their resourcefulness in manufacturing a bulky and realistic bunker door with such little money. The film’s key location is a basement and that looks fairly well detailed too. The two lead performances are both quite consistent, all the more impressive given that this is Hope and Reeve’s first time in front of the camera. The dynamic between the pair is raw and natural, add a little experience from Maffei and you’ve got a solid foundation. The film contains some practical blood spray but it’s rather brief.
Even taking into consideration the speedy run time of just 71 minutes, I’m Dreaming Of A White Doomsday is somewhat diminished due to its one location and the overall slow burn nature, which ultimately sees very little actually happen over the duration. I think Lombardo could have elaborated on the decline of the environment itself, perhaps eluding to certain essentials dwindling or other resources failing altogether. The food supply is briefly addressed but other than that the rest remains unexplored. The cinematography is usually best when the shots are stabilized. Unfortunately, there are a few moments early on where the focus drifts back and forth and that indecision is a little distracting. The score is good but maybe a touch repetitive, and I’d like to have seen some more foley recorded. The sound of gusty winds is formulated for externals, but at times the sound bed as a whole feels a little hollow. For a sizeable chunk of the film young Riley is nowhere to be seen. The sole focus switches to Kelly (the mother) and there isn’t so much as a glimpse of the young boy. It was quite noticeable because there are predominantly only three characters. The continuity and details surrounding Simon (Maffei) are a little foggy too. He mentions heading out to look for more supplies, and although he appears to return, it isn’t actually shown. There’s no loving embrace or even a general outcome to that particular plot point (Was it in her head?). Unless I happened to have missed something, it seems as if he must have left again at some point (unbeknownst to the viewer). There doesn’t appear to be any fallout from whatever transpired. I don’t know? It was all rather confusing.
I’m Dreaming Of A White Doomsday is a small time indie production competently made by some hard-working people with a DIY methodology. I’m digging the poster art, Lombardo’s setup has its own little spin on the sub-genre, and most of the technical facets are quite well conceived for a film of this nature and budget. Some of the music is memorable, the set design contains attention to detail, and each of the performances is better than I expected. Although it’s only just over an hour, the combination of some slow pacing and a lack of verve do hamper the end result somewhat. Mike could have passed the time better by introducing a few more developments inside the four walls of the bunker to keep it engaging. That said, I quite enjoyed the third act all the same. The film does lack sound design and some much-needed clarity in regard to Simon’s character. All in all, though, this is still a solid debut feature-length film from Lombardo and I look forward to seeing what Reel Splatter Productions does next. If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic films and indie filmmaking, go ahead and check out the official trailer below!
My rating for “I’m Dreaming Of A White Doomsday” is 6/10