Sunday, April 10, 2016

Before I Wake

Year: 2016
Director: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, Dash Mihok, Jay Karnes

Plot: A couple whose son recently died decide to adopt a young boy. They subsequently discover that whenever he's asleep, his dreams become reality. If he has happy dreams, all is well. But if he has nightmares, it's really bad.

Review: Before I Wake was supposed to be released late last year, but it was delayed due to their distributor, Relativity Films going bankrupt. Now, thanks to the half a dozen film companies whose titles I saw as the film begins, audiences finally get to check this out.

Jessie and Mark Hobson are a couple who recently lost their son when he drowned in their bathtub. In an attempt to heal and move on, they adopt a young boy named Cody, who seems adorable and smart. Soon after, they discover he has a unique gift. Whenever he's asleep, whatever he dreams manifest physically, and vanish once he awakens. Since Cody loves butterflies, good dreams creates colorful butterflies flying around. But every kid has nightmares, and Cody's nightmare is in the form of a vile creature he calls the Canker Man, and whenever he shows up, bad things happen in the real world.

Mike Flanagan, director of Oculus (a sleeper hit this reviewer has yet to see) also co-wrote this film. It's interesting to note that Before I Wake isn't a straight up horror flick, as there are strong elements of drama concerning how Jessie and Mark deal with their loss. For a significant portion of the film, Jessie, after discovering Cody's gift, uses him to manifest her late son Sean, something that Mark isn't happy about as he thinks it doesn't constitute good parenting (which is true). Later on, Jessie tries digging up Cody's past and it weaves itself into the film's ending. For true blue horror fans, this would be a letdown for sure, but it all depends on what the viewer expects as they walk in to see this.

Kate Bosworth plays a grieving mother generally well, but strangely enough her character is more courageous in the face of Cody's nightmares and her own than we'd expect. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Thomas Jane is alright as Mark but doesn't get enough to work with here. Jacob Tremblay from the Oscar winning Room is very likable as Cody. He's probably the best thing about the film.

As I've stated, this isn't a straight up horror film, that being said, the horror elements here are in the 'been there done that' category. There are a handful of jump scares here and there, and a few creepy moments, but nothing totally freaky. It's not very scary, but the story might just tug at your heartstrings a little, which works to some extent for me.

Before I Wake is indeed a watchable film if you lower your expectations especially in the horror department. If you want something scary, look elsewhere. (6/10)

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