Monday, February 12, 2018

Film Review: Before I Wake (2016)

Before I Wake (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It's an entertaining and even heartfelt blend of horror and fantasy."

A couple adopts an orphaned child whose dreams become reality while he sleeps.

Before I Wake follows a young couple, Mark (Thomas Jane) and Jessie (Kate Bosworth). Mark and Jessie are still mourning the loss of their first and only child. Their lives change after they adopt an 8-year-old boy named Cody Morgan (Jacob Tremblay). He's a shy but well-mannered child with an interesting past—his mother passed away at a young age, he was abandoned by his past families, and he doesn't like sleeping. Mark and Jessie eventually find out about Cody's special ability: his dreams manifest physically. Mark and Jessie are happy with the dreams... but then the nightmares start occurring. Then, they start seeing The Canker Man. It leads to an emotionally effective ending, but the exposition was heavy-handed—it felt lazy.

Before I Wake is a good fantasy-horror movie. It's a horror film with heart, which you don't see often. It's not exactly the scariest film around, it's a movie about dreams and nightmares but you won't be losing any sleep after watching it, but it is an entertaining experience. Thanks to Mike Flanagan's direction, there is some great suspense and atmosphere here. The jump-scares, although limited, were also fun. I liked the visuals, too. The Canker Man was a simple but effective 'monster' in terms of design. I genuinely enjoyed most of the movie, so I don't have any big complaints. For me, the final act felt 'rushed,' for lack of a better term. It just felt like it was slapped together. There was so much Jessie could have done in terms of her investigation, in which things could have been conveyed naturally and effectively, but the film opts to deliver everything in an exposition-filled finale. It just didn't flow well.

The acting was great, though. Thomas Jane and Kate Bosworth were strong in the leading roles. Jacob Tremblay was also good. The film was shot well. I loved the use of vibrant lighting and color throughout the movie. The music was good, too, although it wasn't very memorable. The film was written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard and Flanagan also served as director. I enjoyed the story, including its somewhat disappointing third act. I wish the third act was more spread out and detailed. Flanagan continues to show his skill as a filmmaker, though. I've been a fan since Absentia and I look forward to seeing more from him.

Overall, Before I Wake is a very good movie. It's an entertaining and even heartfelt blend of horror and fantasy. The story starts to show some cracks during the third act, but it was still a great experience. If you're a fan of the genre, if you're a fan of Flanagan's other work, you should watch this one.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence.

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