Friday, July 08, 2016
Before I Wake (2016)
DIRECTOR: Mike Flanagan
Mark and Jessie are a married couple who lose their young son when he accidentally drowns while taking a bath. After his death, they decide to adopt another young boy by the name of Cody. The couple is informed that while the new boy has had a rough go at life, he's a good kid. Mark and Jessie soon discover that Cody has a unique yet horrifying gift. When he dreams, those dreams manifest in reality. When he dreams happy, they get a glimpse at Cody's colourful imagination. When he has night terrors, the manifestations produce a much darker entity.
Before I Wake has been plagued with issues. As of today, the movie still hasn't had a release in the US. Its release date is currently set for 2017 at this very moment. The original studio who financed the movie had filed for bankruptcy, leaving its future up in the air. Before I Wake was also marketed as a horror film, and it's been said that director Mike Flanagan was unhappy and had objected to the fact that the film was marketed this way. Usually, this spells drama for a film's production.
On first viewing of Before I Wake. I went into this under the impression that I would be witnessing a movie along the same lines as Oculus and Hush. These are two films that I had seen from Mike Flanagan before this film. I expected scary and violent as this is what Mike Flanagan does well. I decided to give this one a watch and little did I realise that the marketing for the movie may have been a little sneaky and made this film appear somewhat more horrifying than it actually was. I must confess that I was left a bit disappointed on my first viewing.
When I decided to review the movie for my website. I wanted to give Before I Wake a second chance to see how I felt on a repeated viewing. I wanted to see if my opinion had changed or if I still thought that the movie wasn't up to speed. To my surprise, I found myself actually enjoying it more on the second time around. I think everyone needs to go into Before I Wake knowing that you shouldn't expect a flat-out horror movie as you'll be sorely disappointed.
While Before I Wake does have elements that coincide with the horror genre. I think this movie is more of a supernatural drama. The film is heavy on the familial themes of life and death. We get equal doses of the fantasy and the family dynamic. I think to go in with the expectation that you will see the usual Mike Flanagan fare. It may end up disappointing some genre fans. This is probably his most horror-lite movie to date. In saying that though, there is something truly special here. I didn't see it on the first viewing, but on second, it won me over.
The most significant element for me is the ending. I know that a lot of critics have claimed that the film loses steam towards the end but I found the final reveal of the entity that manifests in reality, to be fantastic. I thought the ending was devastating. The fact that the last image of his mother who was ravaged by pancreatic cancer and made her unrecognisable which turned her into what he perceives as the monster is enough to make you shed a tear. The scene is actually very bittersweet. It's one of my the most heartfelt scenes in the movie.
This brings me to the acting. Thomas Jane and Kate Bosworth are fantastic together. They are both believable as a married couple and had good chemistry. I thought both actors delivered solid performances. Jacob Tremblay who is well known by now due to his performance in the brilliant drama Room, I think he is also very good here. Jacob is very talented at showing a range of fear and wonder. Annabeth Gish stars here in a small role and is one of those actresses who I just love to see act. She's so talented yet isn't in enough. I'd like to see her in more films.
Now onto the issues that I found with Before I Wake. The movie is kinda slow paced. This isn't a slow burn type of film either, the movie is just slow. While I enjoyed the movie more on my second viewing, the film just felt like it dragged in the beginning. Once the entity surfaces, it starts to pick up the pace a bit. The film also has certain characters who are essential in the story, but when they are consumed by the entity, it's never explained as to what has happened to them. This left me a little annoyed towards the end of the film.
Lastly, Before I Wake is also heavy on visuals. I loved the idea behind the visuals, but they aren't always successful. I think 'The Canker Monster' is a pretty creepy villain. I think that the visual effects to get the creature to that stage aren't always successful. I also thought a lot of the scenes with the butterflies looked sort of fake. I won't grill and complain about the visuals too much as this is one of the most creative uses of effects within a genre film that I've seen this year.
DEATH TOLL: 4
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A child is seen drowning in a bathtub.
- A child is consumed by a monster.
- A father and a woman are also devoured by a monster.
- Murky water leaks from a hollow eye socket.
- A demon shoves her fingers into a child's head.
Before I Wake is a film that deals with life, dealing with the loss of a loved one and eventually overcoming that loss. The movie has some smart ideas and is one of the more interesting supernatural films of the year. The movie also contains some solid acting and a nice twist towards the end. It does, however, stumble a few times with it's pacing, visual effects and it's inability to tie up a few loose ends. However, Before I Wake is worth a watch.