Before I Wake (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Before I Wake (2016)

Before I Wake Australian Bluray cover

Film: It must be horrible to make something that no one seemingly gives a damn about. I know that one of my biggest fears about this very site is that I’ll go a week with absolutely no hits, and that what I am doing is just shouting into the wind. That’s possibly quite egotistical but I guess we all want to make a mark in some way and my wanting to make that mark is why I continue to do what I do… that and warning you, dear reader, against some of the scourges of cinema.

What must be really horrible is to be a part of a collaborative project like a film that just gets dumped and almost feels like it’s sole purpose for existence is to disappear and be forgotten. I get angry when I see films that just slip into release with not even a by-your-leave.

This film seemed to be one of these ones that slipped by without anyone noticing and I was surprised as it has a decent cast (Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane and Annabeth Gish) and a decent director writer in Mike Flanagan (Oculus and the excellent Hush). 

Jesse (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) are a couple in crisis: an indeterminate time ago their son, Sean (Antonio Evan Romero) died when he drowned in his bath. Jesse and Mark are making an attempt to recover from their horrible misfortune by taking on a foster child, Cody (Jacob Tremblay), a 7 year old who has been subjected to some mistreatment himself, such as abandonment, and an attempted murder.

Thomas Jane as Mark and Kate Bosworth as Jesse

When Cody joins the family, unusual things start to happen. Whenever Cody sleeps, they are visited by butterflies that disappear into mist once he wakes up. The longer he is exposed to the family though, the ghostly butterflies turn into a ghostly form of Sean, and Jesse becomes obsessed with telling and showing Cody more and more about Sean, as the more he knows, the more defined the ‘ghost’ of Sean becomes.

There’s more to Cody’s dreams though, as the manifestation has a dark side too as a horrible thing, the Canker Man (Topher Bousquet), also comes to visit…. And sometimes he takes things away with him…

Jacob Tremblay as Cody

So as you can see by that synopsis, it has all the foundations for a good, modern Nightmare on Elm Street type thing, with dreams becoming reality, but Flanagan has been so meticulously careful with the subject matter of a child whose passed that the supernatural elements of the story suffers for it. 

Maybe it’s just the horror of losing a child is far greater than any supernatural claptrap.

Bosworth, Jane and Gish are amazing in the film. Bosworth plays the emotionally delicate mother to a T, and Jane as the ‘trying to be tough through it all’ average joe (with a terrible Nickelback styled haircut) plays opposite her beautifully. Special marks have to go to the wonderful performance by newcomer Tremblay, who plays the tortured child with emotion greater than his years, and quite understated.

The direction of the movie is wonderful, and the effects… and the subtlety of the effects… are fantastic (if you watch this film, watch the antennae of the butterflies to see what I mean), but this film suffers for its subject matter.

Sometimes films do get dumped and as sad as that is, sometimes it’s because they are misguided in where the horror lies. This is melodrama dressed as horror, and if I were reviewing the performance for a dramatic film about the loss of a child, it would score quite high, but if this is a horror film, well, not so much. 

Score: **

The Australian Bluray menu screen

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Bluray release, which runs for approximately 97 minutes and is presented in an immaculate 2.40:1 image and a matching Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: You didn’t want extras, did you? Well tough: there is none.

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s not my thing, so no.

Topher Bousquet as The Canker Man

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