Review: 'From Dusk Till Dawn' Starts Slow, Uninspired and Briefly Supernatural
The whole idea behind developing a beloved cult movie into a TV series was to expand the world first created. It seemed promising enough, as it was a world, as it were, that contained some crazy criminals, hardened cops, an innocent family, and sexy, deadly, vampires.
At least for the first episode, ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ is lacking.
Premiering tonight on the El Rey Network and becoming available on Netflix (save for U.S. audiences) 24 hours following the airing, the Robert Rodriguez-created show truly does feel like the film was simply unnecessarily stretched out. That is not to say further episodes won’t pick up the pace (only the pilot was made available to review), but if the mentality stays the same, this might be a worthless endeavor.
In order to develop this fascinating realm, however, there needs to surely be rich, layered characters and, most obvious of all, actually something going on. Of the four characters we really get to know in the pilot, one captures interest. What’s more, very little happens.
The 10-episode series takes place across one 24-hour period, based directly on the film version. It follows the Gecko brothers, on the lam after a bank heist went wrong (read: cops were killed) and heading for the Mexican border. They are set to rendevous at a mysterious brothel, and along the way, they kidnap the unassuming Fuller family and commandeer their RV.
We’re not quite there yet though. So not only does the show need to turn a two-hour movie into something closer to eight, but it has to remain cunning while dealing with a story that everyone sort of already knows. I mean, there are vampires – it’s not a surprise.
We get a glimpse of a pair of these demonic vixens, as Richie, the more psychotic and unstable half of the killer brother team gets picked on by these temptresses who masquerade as young women. Played by Zane Holtz and D.J. Cotrona, respectively, Richie and Seth Gecko find themselves regrouping at a liquor station having just killed a group of Texas Rangers.
It’s in this store where the entirety of action takes place during the first episode. Enter, by accident, Rangers Earl McGraw (Don Johnson) and Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia), and we’ve got a showdown.
An early lengthy conversation between the senior ranger and his younger apprentice foreshadows the former’s fate, and discussions of wives and children and parents and godparents does nothing to humanize these figure or build compassion. It only serves to remind the audience that this was once a movie, and maybe there was a reason.
Richie is by far the most interesting, though somewhat different than his film counterpart (played by Quentin Tarrantino). More composed and less twitchy, he is clearly a sociopath with some awkward tendencies and an overactive imagination. There is a sense (and hope) too that he can erupt at any moment.
While Richie attempts to stay cool, Seth tries to be the voice of reason, facilitating a meeting with their employer (Wilmer Valderrama) that is to take place at the aforementioned brothel on the border.
The lengthy standoff between cop and criminal allows us to get into the minds of these characters – how long the cops will be around is uncertain – but you can’t help but watch and feel that you are owed more. Teasing shots of vampires, a generic gun battle, and visuals that are unremarkable do not place this series alongside its film parent.
It’s hard to effectively judge the series from one episode considering ‘From Dusk Till Dawn,’ it is assumed, will be a self-contained story of which we already know many details. The pilot, though, doesn’t solve any of the problems inherent in an adaptation. It is slow of pace, lacking intrigue, and without novelty.
That said, Rodriguez, having directed the film, isn’t likely to waste this opportunity. What’s more, we’re only in the late afternoon - we’re not yet close to nighttime, where things are sure to get weird.
What’s more, photos and trailers reveal that things will get bloody (and vampiric), but it’s too bad the pilot doesn’t pack more of a punch.
While Netflix picked up this series for all the non U.S. territories, it is unfortunately being aired one episode per week, a format that is limiting as this series calls for some binge-watching, it’s sure. ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ needs to offer something new, and move things along.
‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ premieres on the El Rey Network on Tuesday, March 11 at 9/8, and will become available on Netflix for non-U.S. subscribers on March 12.
This was a great show..... a great waste of time. I thought it might be at least passable as it has Don Johnsln in it.... OH, now he's dead. The biggest star drawing the audance and he gets killed off in the first episode, how bloody stupid is that. The story is moving so slow that they might as well have called it "24 - Escaping Jail" And as fort the so called supernatural side of the show, it's just the nutcase crazy brother seeing things that arnt there anyway. This either has to get a hell of a lot better and faster paced or it's probably not even going to make it to it's stupidly short run of 10 episodes. No where neer enough time to establish a decent story line for a Supernatural/Fantasy show in the first season unless they pack it tightly like "True Blood"
Message Posted On Mar 14th, 2014, 7:51 pm
Total trash. Nothing but a very poor remake of the beginning of the From Dusk Till Dawn film. The actors playing Richie and Seth suck as well as the guy playing the Texas Ranger. With one episode in the books there won't be much time for this 10 episode series to pick up the pace. I expect it not to survive the first 10 episodes.
Level 1 (70%) Mood: aggravated Since: 02/Feb/13
Message Posted On Mar 13th, 2014, 1:58 am
Aye, was to be expected I guess :/
Message Posted On Mar 12th, 2014, 7:34 am
Told y'all it would suck. Rodriguez hasn't done anything noteworthy in a very long time. Attempting to capitalize on a near twenty year old films buzz and the fading vampire buzz illustrates just how behind the curve he is. Of course this Hispanic channel has very little of a market to buy from. I imagine you will see a lot of Latino themed reality shows pop up on it real soon.