Vampire Owl: Do I get to make a sentence with this title?
Vampire Bat: What are you talking about?
Vampire Owl: I really wanted to make a sentence with these words as those school children do.
Vampire Bat: Why do you want to imitate school children when we are self-taught and vampire-learnt?
Vampire Owl: I just want to try it once like they do.
Vampire Bat: Okay, come up with the sentence.
Vampire Owl: Before I wake, I remember that I need to brush my teeth.
Vampire Bat: This is the most ridiculous sentence that I have heard – you never brush your teeth. And you should remember that before going to sleep, not after falling asleep.
Vampire Owl: I do brush my teeth, but I do that only in secret.
Vampire Bat: Secret? It is not like you are planning to bring the end of the world.
[Gets three cups of masala tea with banana chips].
What is the movie about? :: The married couple of Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) Hobson makes the decision to adopt a child after their young child dies all of a sudden, and as they realize that they can’t be parents biologically anymore. They haven’t really recovered from the loss of their only child, but they decide to go on with the adoption anyway hoping that it will make them forget and provide a child with a better life. The one whom they adopt is the eight year old boy Cody Morgan (Jacob Tremblay), who was adopted many times, but had to return to the foster home for a variety of reasons. After not much of a thought, they decide that this is the child for them. Even though Jessie is a lot more concerned with parenting after the unexpected death of her son, she decides to bring all the love to Cody, and so does Mark.
So, what happens next? :: There are just happy moments with the three around, and they get along really well. Cody seems like a good child, and the the couple leaves nothing behind in loving him. One night, the couple are surprised to see beautiful butterflies of different colours fly across the living room. But when Cody wakes up, things get back to how it used to be, and the butterflies suddenly disappear without leaving any trace. Another night, after talking to Cody about their dead son, they find the child standing in front of them at the main hall, and see him disappear when Cody wakes up. Jessie is fascinated by this, and shows him many videos of his son so that there is a better chance that Cody dreams about him when asleep – she also tries to keep him asleep so that he can dream. But there is more to his dreams that they know – and it will be revealed soon.
What all awaits in the dreams and nightmares? :: Cody talks a lot about The Canker Man (Topher Bousquet) who is always with him. As this person is supposed to arrive when he is asleep, he mostly stays awake reading about butterflies and other nice things. He often talks about this creature having eaten his mother, and keeps making sure that this shadowy creature is not present around him just before going to sleep. With all these powers that Cody’s dreams have, there is only more that the powerful nightmares can do, especially during a bad day at school or at home. It is certain that nobody believes him when he talks about it, and not many people who have seen it remains alive, with the rest of them in the mental asylum. With such dark power waiting to be unleashed, does the couple realize what they are going to face?
The defence of Before I Wake :: Well, this is not the horror-fest that we need, but the beautiful horror that could do even better. There are enough scary moments, and along with the same, the main idea is superb – to have a mind that could create things, but good and bad, through the dreams which become reality; you sleep, but what you have in your dreams and nightmares become the reality for the people who are awake. When you are not in control of these, you don’t wish to sleep at all – nobody can blame you for the same. There is a nicely designed creature here, and the same can be said about the environment as well as the world that is created inside the dreams and nightmares. Mike Flanagan has provided us some of the most interesting horror movies including Ouija: Origin of Evil and Oculus, and Absentia and Hush are two highly rated ones from him too, with Gerald’s Game coming up based on the Stephen King’s novel of same name. You can always expect something special when he is around.
The claws of flaw :: This one could have surely added more frightening moments, and also should have picked up the pace faster in the beginning stages. We do have an idea early enough, but things just move rather slowly during those times. The Canker Man, the monster, should have been in the movie for longer too – so could have been the use of his powers, with sleeping and dreaming being part of the action on screen when least expected. With the scope for imagination to run wild as this is about dreams and nightmares, one is sure to say that this movie could have easily made it into the list of favourites on many lists with more attention. There could have been something similar to the magic which Guillermo del Toro had created with his creatures in more than one movie, but this one’s focus keeps shifting from what was its biggest strength among them all – the nightmare creature, or the Canker Man.
How it finishes :: There is one thing that we can be sure about – it is that Before I Wake is more than just a horror movie; it dares to be different in its treatment of its monster and how things change to reach that end which leaves a smile on our faces. It ends with more of a beautiful feeling than anything else – it is something that horror movies don’t usually have. As Kate Bosworth provides with a performance that makes us feel the dreams and nightmares, happiness and sadness, life and death – all at one place, we are made sure that this is the horror movie which is not just about being terrifying, but also about something more than that. It is the success of this kind of a movie that we see here, which is part a fairy-tale and also a horror movie, being the kind of movie that we wish to watch before we go for sleep and have our daily dose of dreams and nightmares. Here we have those which make Crimson Peak and Mama proud.
Release date: 31st July 2016
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, Dash Mihok, Topher Bousquet, Scottie Thompson, Justin Gordon, Kyla Deaver
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.