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[Nightstream ’21] ‘Cosmic Dawn’ review: UFO cult mystery dabbles in more than sci-fi

May you reach the Dawn.

Cosmic Dawn starts on June night in 1997. A young girl named Aurora watches as her mother is seemingly abducted by a UFO. An undisclosed number of years later, the now adult Aurora is still haunted by the incident. When she walks into a bookstore, she meets a group of people who may have the answers to her mother’s disappearance. But are they the solutions she is truly looking for?

The story can be a little confusing at first. After jumping forward at least ten years, Cosmic Dawn moves ahead another four years. A few moments later, the story seems to go back some years. It can initially throw people off, but things soon settle in. (Transitions with wacky sound effects also help.) Telling two stories at the same time is not unheard of, but it is not done very smoothly in the film’s early moments.

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Once the audience does find their footing, things become incredibly enjoyable. The plot becomes a sci-fi mystery that draws the audience in. Nothing is as is seems in Cosmic Dawn and the story invites constant questions. The nonlinear narrative introduces characters to audiences before they have been properly brought into the story. Those watching are left wondering how everyone fits into Cosmic Dawn. While the movie does not tackle what has happened to Aurora (Camille Rowe) since meeting the UFO cult, watching how the all the events tie together is fun.

[Nightstream '21] 'Cosmic Dawn' review: UFO cult mystery dabbles in more than sci-fi

Therein lies the central mystery of Cosmic Dawn. Everything becomes a matter of truth and lies. Are the Cosmic Dawn truly preparing for a civilization from another planet or is it a hoax perpetrated by one woman? This driving force carries the film. There is nice use of colors and some psychedelic moments, but it is the unknown that will keep audiences engaged. Cosmic Dawn shows its hand a little too early, but still results in a satisfactory ending.

Nightstream takes place virtually from October 7 – October 13

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