Before I Wake is a horror film where the title just makes sense. If you just hear the title you can probably guess the general synopsis of the film. The quick response you will always think of though is just “Wake the Kid up” Well, one character tries at any rate. Probably should have tried harder though. It’s a decent film if we go by horror film standards, but it still couldn’t cut the mustard overall. It just mainly lacks a good ending but more on that later.
The film starts off with an edgy opening as a Dad tries to murder his son but isn’t able to do it and the cops arrest him. It turns out that this kid’s dreams become reality as long as he is asleep. When he wakes they all vanish. Unfortunately, the more Cody uses this ability, the more the monster that is inside of him shows up. His monster has already destroyed the last few families he was with so now we are introduced to the latest foster parents, Mark and Jessie. Unfortunately they may not be ready for this kid as they are dealing with their own issues. Can they defeat the monster?
I admit that if I had Cody’s powers I would barely even notice. I rarely dream which is kind of unfortunate but it’s because I found the trick to it. If you start thinking about 2 stocking people and winning Super Smash tournaments, you eventually black out and then it’s the next day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve won EVO. All right, back on topic. I have to say that the kid dreams extremely fast since the visions seem to occur the moment his head hits the pillow. The dreams are awful convenient but as the kid is fairly young I Guess it makes sense that he would dream about his latest thoughts. The kid isn’t a bad character. Cody is pretty cryptic but at least he has good reason to be since people try to destroy him and even monsters are on the hunt. He does have his iffy moments though as he will intentionally ask the parents personal questions about how their son died in order to take attention away from him. It does show that he’s not a very nice kid at times and is mainly looking out for himself.
Mark is definitely a solid character. He does his best to get along with the kid and gives him a lot of fun days. It’s not enough to totally get rid of the sleeping problem but the Dad does his best. He also charges at the monster which is more than I can say for 90% of horror protagonists. He got a decent grab in but since the monster assimilates anyone it touches, this didn’t work out too well.
Jessie was not a good character though and realllly takes a long time to get over her past. The film does give a nice misdirect here we initially you may think the Dad is the one who isn’t coping well. He stopped coming to the grief club to wallow in sorrow and Jessie claims that he has been distant. The film quickly shows us that it is the opposite way around. She just can’t get over her last kid, Sean, and as soon as she learns that this one can make dreams real she exploits the ability to make Cody dream of her son. Even though the son is fake it’s good enough for her but of course this means she is neglecting her current son. She even goes as far as to drug Cody to keep him asleep. While she sees the light by the end, it certainly took a while and I can’t say that I’m a fan of hers.
The ending also isn’t great. Basically, they can’t bring any of the victims back since they were completely eaten but the heroes take solace in the fact that they can all be together in the afterlife or whenever the kid dreams about them. That’s a small consolation at best and it probably would have been better if at least the Dad had survived. The people from child support lived, but I guess it’s because they were assimilated into walls instead of the monster. Also, the film quickly teased a fight between the monster and the mother as they ran towards each other but it ended up being a hug instead. I was really hoping for the fight as she would try to avenge her husband.
The tragic backstory for the main characters was also needlessly tragic. Instead of having their kid drowned and then they couldn’t have more kids, the film could have skipped the former and started with the latter. Maybe even just have the kid get sick or something. Drowning is a bit much for a child. I also have to then question the handle bars that the family added for when they have more kids. They looked to be a little too high up if the kid was the same height so what was the point again? I think the bars would have to be lowered a little more to serve their intended purpose.
I’ll give the main characters some props for figuring out how the kids powers worked very quickly. Usually most of the film is spent just trying to get the supporting characters to re learn what common sense is. Here that wasn’t really a problem. Finally, I should also talk about the monster’s design. It’s pretty good and sort of looks like Slenderman. The monster has a few nifty abilities like assimilation and super strength. He isn’t very fast, but doesn’t trip so he will eventually catch you. Assuming that this monster will help the heroes in a sequel, we’re going to need a new monster.
Overall, Before I Wake definitely has an interesting premise. It also is classier than most horror films but still gets needlessly grim at times. The beginning and ending are weak. While the middle is decent, the repetition of the drowning scene doesn’t help it either. I don’t expect many horror fans will find this all that scary so you’ll have to enjoy it for the plot. I’d sooner recommend a film like Poltergeist 3. That one had everything you could ask for from a horror film.