You have an amazing gift! Let’s see what can happen.
If there is one thing I like then it’s original ideas in films. Now before I go any further, let me clarify that by saying that I know that the idea and plot of this film is not 100% original, but it’s about as close to an original idea that I have reviewed in a while.
The one thing that makes me a bit wary ahead of watching “Before I Wake” is that whilst the trailer starts off very well, and had me hooked straight away, the end of the trailer and the way it seems to rely on jump scares is making me a little less enthusiastic.
Horror films are generally not very original to begin with, with the most recent original film that I’ve seen being the excellent “The Babadook”, but aside from that the millennium so far has been filled with predictable nonsense, such as “The Gallows”, a film that made it to the Number 2 spot on my Bottom 10 of 2015 list.
That being said, I’m prepared to give it a chance as trailers sometimes misrepresent the film….not always, but sometimes.
Mark (Jane) and Jessie (Bosworth) are still grieving following on from their son’s death from drowning, but they get approval to foster another child and greet Cody (Tremblay) into their home. The homes that Cody has lived in before hand have had unusual events occur, and this soon starts happening as Mark and Jessie notice bizarre butterflies flying around their home, all before vanishing in a flash. Soon after, they see a vision of their dead son and they realise that Cody’s dreams become reality.
Jessie soon purposefully tries to get Cody to fall to sleep on a more regular basis so that she can see her son more and more, but in forcing him to sleep comes a danger as whilst they have seen what happens when he dreams, but not when he has nightmares, and this soon forms a figure that Cody refers to as eating his mother.
One night, after drugging up Cody to force him to sleep, Jessie and Mark seeing the figure for the first time and it absorbs the latter, leaving Jessie on her own as social services find out about her drugging Cody, so she must find a way to not only get her husband back, but Cody as well.
Does it fall into the traditional cliches?
There are a few moments here and there which definitely fall into the traditional cliches that you find in the horror genre. This ranges from the simple seeing of someone in the background, but when the character looks they’re not there, or hearing a noise and then they only see what’s there when they return to their original position. It’s all a little predictable in places, but other than that I have no real complaints with “Before I Wake”.
The acting from all concerned is very good, and each brings something different to the table. Jacob Tremblay follows on from his exceptional performance in “Room” with playing another damage, albeit less quizzical child. Kate Bosworth’s emotionally distraught portrayal of a grieving mother that’s trying to move on is very engaging, and Thomas Jane does a great job as a man who is desperate to move on and stop reflecting on his now dead son.
I have to say that Tremblay did lose me a bit in the film, he has a great way of portraying youthful innocent, but he doesn’t show anything that you haven’t seen from him before, but if he plays it well then why not play to his strengths? As he gets older he will really need to try different types of roles, even during the immediate further, but he is arguably the go-to young actor for this type of character, and you want him to be safe throughout the movie as he plays Cody with an almost gentle nature.
Each of the main cast does such a good job that you care about them, but it largely doesn’t feel like they’re in a horror film, or at least one that is designed for anyone over the age of about 12. If this ever is released in the cinema in the UK, I’d be amazed if it isn’t made into a 12A, at most. There’s not really anything outstanding in terms of horror, but this allows plenty of chance and time to develop your characters, and the one minor threat in the film does feel genuinely dangerous.
If it is released in the cinema there is only one or two scenes that might cause distress, but the majority of the film is very reminiscent of films from the peak of Spielberg’s career. There is something wonderous about the film and almost very child-like in its nature.
Not once during the film was I bored. It keeps you interested during it’s 90 or so minute run time and the reason for this is that you’re constantly curious about what’s going on and what will happen next. This is something that is very unusual about something that makes claims that it’s a horror film.
And finally, what I especially love is how a film in which it would have been so easy to end on a negative note, but the film does what a lot of horror films don’t and that is end on a note of hope. Too many horror films go for one final scare, or do something that doesn’t fit the rest of the film, but not “Before I Wake”, and they couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate song to end on than “Welcome Home” by Radical Face. I really want to tell you now how it end, but it would ruin it and as I’m about to give this the approved stamp, I don’t want to do that.
The small cast does an excellent job about getting you to care about their characters, and you genuinely feel the strain that is being put on each of them. The film isn’t overly complicated, you understand what’s going on relatively easily, and this is probably going to be the closest thing I review to a children’s horror that I’m likely to on this site.
Don’t let that put you off though. I enjoyed “Before I Wake” and I think you will too though.