Horror Movie Review: Before I Wake (2016)

If there is one thing that frustrates me most about certain horror movies. It’s their failure to capitalize on a really strong premise. Before I wake has a great concept to build upon. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much with it. Thankfully, it isn’t completely void of ideas….

Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) Hobson adopt a new foster child, Cody (Jacob Tremblay), after their son Sean dies in a horrific bathing related accident.

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Jessie and Mark seem like genuinely nice people who have been through a terrible tragedy so it’s nice to witness them having a moment of happiness even if it is brief. After an opening in which we see a distraught man holding a gun to Cody it’s immediately obvious that there is clearly much more going on with him.

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Cody doesn’t like to sleep, he does everything he can to stay awake in fact but for good reason. When Cody goes to sleep his dreams manifest themselves into the real world in physical form. He has an obsession with butterflies and is constantly drawing and reading about them. This means that the vast majority of his dreams involve lots of pretty looking butterflies invading the Hobson house, no big deal.

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It’s not long before Cody becomes curious about Sean and notices a photograph of him on the wall. That night, he dreams of Sean who appears. Strangely, he seems to be stuck in the exact pose he is doing in the photo. I think this is one of the most interesting aspects of the film. Cody is a young child so the things he dreams about come from the mind of a child. How someone so young would interpret something or someone.

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Jessie starts to become obsessed with the idea that Cody can bring Sean back to life at night. She encourages it but Mark disapproves. He accuses Jessie of abusing Cody. He is right to do so as she soon gets prescribed sleeping medication to ensure he sleeps. You can obviously see things from her perspective. Still, it’s not exactly fair to use Cody the ways she does.

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Jessie wants Cody to sleep and he does. What she doesn’t realise is that the more he sleeps the more susceptible he is to nightmares. This isn’t exactly his first foster family. Eventually the nightmares always come and with them a mysterious monster that takes away everything he cares about. To save their new family, Jessie and Mark embark on a dangerous hunt. Hoping to uncover the truth behind Cody’s nightmares.

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Before I Wake is fine but it could have been much more with its interesting concept. I found it strangely similar to some of the aspects of Wes Cravens New Nightmare. Still, the idea is solid but it’s executed in extremely tame fashion. There are few scares to be had and the ones that do happen are just cheap jump scares. The “monster” in this film is revealed to be something quite unexpected and sad by the end. This was interesting but it drove the movie almost entirely away from being a horror. I’m not sure why the “monster” looks so terrible exactly. It just seems odd like is that really the best they could come up with?

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My favorite moment in the film is the part when Jessie visits the man from the beginning that had the gun to Cody. He explains that the same nightmares came to Cody when he lived with him and his wife. The monster came and it took his wife which left him distraught and angry. Knowing about Cody’s ability, he did everything he could to get him to dream about his wife at night so he could spend time with her. Again, Cody is a child so he was only about to conjure his interpretation of the man’s wife which was a rather creepy figure indeed. I don’t know why but I just liked that whole aspect of the film.

There really isn’t much more to say, it’s an okay movie with decent acting. I doubt it will live long in my memory which is a huge shame as I had hopes for this one. I can’t recommend it is a horror movie because by the end it will have you questioning whether or not it can even be considered one at all.

 

 

Before I Wake
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