More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.36%
Worth A Look: 6.82%
Average: 2.27%
Pretty Bad: 4.55%
Total Crap75%

3 reviews, 26 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Homewrecker (2019) by Jay Seaver

Gemini Man by Jay Seaver

Pain and Glory by Peter Sobczynski

Rusalka (aka The Siren), The by Jay Seaver

Riot Girls by Rob Gonsalves

Crawl by Rob Gonsalves

Wallflower by Rob Gonsalves

Parts You Lose, The by Jay Seaver

Dilili in Paris by Jay Seaver

First Love by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

September Dawn
[] Buy posters from this movie
by brianorndorf

"The Mormons are the new Paris Hilton"
1 stars

Part historical reenactment, part high school drama, and part melodramatic twaddle, “September Dawn” won’t be remembered for much other than the film that went after the Mormons with a bloodthirsty vengeance.

Making their way from Arkansas to California in 1857, the Fancher emigrant train stopped off in Utah for a needed break on the Mountain Meadows land controlled by a Mormon militia, overseen by the Bishop Jacob Samuelson (Jon Voight). Fearful of those crossing into their terrain after previous religious persecution, Samuelson takes his case to Brigham Young (Terence Stamp), who orders the emigrants to be slaughtered and the blame placed on a local Native American tribe. The situation is complicated by Samuelson’s son (Trent Ford, a dreadful actor), who takes a shine to one of the Fancher women (Tamara Hope), and fights his fellows Mormons to keep her alive.

This is a brutal historical subject, but director Christopher Cain makes it impossible to take anything seriously. He’s created a clumsy picture, unable to finesse its low budget into something compact and direct. Cain is married to his “Romeo + Juliet” plot and the more he tries to sell the unsophisticated overtones of love and hate, the more the film looks amateurish and silly. A veteran of the industry, Cain should know better than to reach beyond his grasp. His sloppy efforts to insert epic wrath into the fabric of the picture makes it all resemble a lukewarm “MAD TV” skit.

“Dawn” is drawn from thin material, perhaps better suited for a short film or a television special. On the big screen, the padding stunts the drama, leaving long stretches of the script where nothing of note actually occurs. It’s one big buildup to the wargasm between the Christians and the Mormons, but Cain assumes it’s his right to plod around the conflict as much as he possibly can in the name of “drama!” With actors this limited (the performances are atrocious) and one-dimensional, it’s asking a lot of the audience to sit through more than what they absolutely need to.

The point of the picture appears to be the blunt mockery of the Mormon culture, but surely “Dawn” would be far more controversial if it didn’t try so hard to be raw and unpleasant. Cain has turned the Mormons into baby-eatin’ Nazis to suit his argument, parading around these black-clad, chin-bearded, testicle-slicing gunslingers without any thoughtful consideration. To Cain, the Mormons were hulking, borderline insane fundamental gorillas who flung excrement at anyone daring to besmirch the name of Joseph Smith (played by…oh man…Dean Cain), and led around on a dog collar by a Zod-like deity in Brigham Young. Of course, the recorded truth of the massacre isn’t all that far from what Cain is dramatizing, but in a motion picture, with the images up close and personal, turning the film into a cartoon of cardboard good vs. evil looks unprofessional.

Cain’s points are crudely made (the majority of the massacre occurred on September 11th! ooooooooh, ahhhhhhhhhh) and the film isn’t interested in a rounded examination of religious extremism. “September Dawn” is more content poking sticks into the unknown to rile up sensitive viewers. It’s a trashy, tasteless, and ridiculous film about a serious event in prairie history, eliciting laughter instead of education.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 08/24/07 10:00:00
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

3/24/10 walter not very good 2 stars
12/21/08 Shaun Wallner This movie stinks!! 1 stars
1/04/08 riding high extremely onesided. All bad or all good. No such thing. More accuracies 2 stars
1/04/08 action movie fan could have been great-too slow masscare scene wasted in slow motion-potential not develpoed 3 stars
9/07/07 Patty Norris I am descended from the victims. I LOVE this film and was very pleased it was so factual! 5 stars
9/02/07 Exmormon What a shame... As a historical perspective hardly factual as a movie PUKE 1 stars
9/02/07 anouka the mormons did it, and brigham young allowed it. 1 stars
9/01/07 Ken very bad fiction and bad acting. The event deserved a better written and better acted film 1 stars
8/31/07 mike Religion is a scam. How does anyone know what happend in the past they wern't there! 1 stars
8/30/07 joyhope extreamly untruthful, no fact based, very onesided. 1 stars
8/29/07 ME Where are the FACTS? horribly inaccurate account 1 stars
8/29/07 Dave As a JD Lee relative, I had to go. Bad enough to be fun. 1 stars
8/27/07 anonymous True story well told. The side story of young love is not the main plot here! 5 stars
8/27/07 Evil Bishop Guy Jehovah created ME... to tell you this movie is a steaming pile! 1 stars
8/27/07 Sean Miller As a historian & not a mormon I had to laugh at this film. Dramatization to the max! 1 stars
8/27/07 JoshBeamen Worth seeing; well done period piece and strong emotional impact. 4 stars
8/27/07 Diana Terrible acting. Ridiculous portrayal of the Mormons, and I grew up with them! 1 stars
8/27/07 Nate So bad it's funny 1 stars
8/27/07 anon Accurately portrays the attitude of Mormons towards "Gentiles" that continues even today. 5 stars
8/27/07 Emily I laughed and I laughed, and then I realized it wasn't supposed to be a comedy. 1 stars
8/27/07 Truth Laughably bad. I laughed all the way through it, and I'm an exmormon! Absolute tripe. 1 stars
8/27/07 September Dawn was easy on the mormons 4 stars
8/26/07 Oscar Worth seeing, reminder of downside of religions in general, and Mormonism in particular. 4 stars
8/26/07 ss very good 5 stars
8/26/07 Winifred M. Mitchell One of the best movies ever - so much truth. 5 stars
8/26/07 Vid Terrible movie that tries to make complex story black and white. 1 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  24-Aug-2007 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jan-2008



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast