Review: Before I Wake (2016 film)

Posted: January 12, 2018 in Review
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Before I Wake is a film that has been promising to come out since 2015. However the film’s distributor, Relativity Media, kept pushing it back and finally off the release schedule due to the company’s financial troubles and whatever decisions go on in Hollywood boardrooms. With only a promising trailer to go on, plenty of Americans were wondering if we’d ever see this film and if it would be any good if we did. However last year Netflix announced it had acquired the rights to the film, and this month they released it onto their streaming platform.

And as I’m sick today and didn’t feel like doing anything else, I decided to watch it and see if it would live up to my expectations (which was average at best).

*Sigh* I can see why it was taken off the release schedule by its cash-strapped distribution company.

Before I Wake is about Jessie Hobson (played by Kate Bosworth), who becomes a foster parent with her husband to young Cody Morgan (played by Jacob Tremblay) after their own son dies in a tragic accident. They soon learn that Cody’s dreams are able to manifest in the real world, and Jessie predictably starts using his powers so she can see her son again. However, Cody’s nightmares cause horrible things to happen, and Jessie must race to unravel Cody’s subconscious before it destroys everything around him.

And yes, I see the Nightmare on Elm Street influence, but let’s ignore that, shall we?

I’m not going to lie. This film was kind of disappointing. It does have its good points: Bosworth, Tremblay, and Thomas Jane as Jessie’s husband Mark have great chemistry. You really do buy Bosworth as a woman trying to fill the hole in her heart and sees Cody’s ability as a way to do that rather than Cody himself, and you also buy Mark as a man trying to be there for this kid and worried about his wife. And oh my God, is Jacob Tremblay some sort of prodigy? Because he is just amazing in this film. You really think he’s this earnest little boy who’s afraid of his powers.

And until we reach the last thirty minutes of the film, it’s decent.

But other than that, this film has some serious issues. The plot is kind of by-the-numbers despite the heartfelt emotions of the characters. The CGI monsters aren’t that terrifying after you get them into the light, and there’s more of a focus on this emotional connection than creating a scary atmosphere. And while I’m not opposed to focusing on a connection between characters, when you put more emphasis on that than on making a scary movie scary, you know you have a problem. Imagine if Carrie was less about a psychic girl using her powers to fix her life and then get revenge and more about two broken women trying to repair their relationship while psychic stuff happens around them and it’s still billed as a scary movie. You see my problem here.

And finally, that last half hour. That is my biggest problem of the film. Rather than trying to have a climax, it seems more like the film is concerned with wrapping up its story with exposition and trying to make us feel the warm fuzzies inside with a sappy ending. If perhaps they added an extra half-hour and tried to do some things different, maybe go in some darker directions, we could’ve had a better film. Instead we’re left feeling like the filmmakers got bored and just tried to finish up the film with an ending that sounded nice, rather than a good one.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Before I Wake a 2. Great emotional storytelling and a good premise, but the execution makes for a terrible horror movie. If you’re looking for something scary to watch on Netflix, I would highly recommend watching another film.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, I’m taking it easy while I continue to heal. Pleasant nightmares and have a good weekend.


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