Awake

Vampire Owl: We are not supposed to be awake at this time.

Vampire Bat: We are awake because we are not supposed to go through eternal sleep.

Vampire Owl: Nothing is eternal, other than our immortality.

Vampire Bat: There are still limitations to our immortal nature.

Vampire Owl: The limitations have been imposed by the suppression of our true nature.

Vampire Bat: There is no definition of true nature of the undead.

Vampire Owl: It is what separates us, the undead from the undying.

Vampire Bat: You feel that it is going to matter in the end, do you?

Vampire Owl: Yes, we are going to live for such a long time.

Vampire Bat: Life after death do no usually count as life with its original meaning.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Jill Adams (Gina Rodriguez) is a recovering drug addict, who is now working as a security guard at a local college, after serving as a United States Army medic much earlier. Along with the same, she also steals drugs from the research lab to sell them outside. She picks up her children Noah (Lucius Hoyos) and Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt) after work, only to meet an accident on the road, as it seems that everything which works with electricity is malfunctioning. All the cars lose control on the road, and there are many accidents. All the buildings have also lost power. The three somehow manages to get to the nearby hospitals, as people keep talking about this being a terrorist attack, maybe from the Chinese. In the hospital, they find out that the patients in coma have awakened, much to the surprise of the doctors and nurses who were treating them. At night, they are not able to sleep, and they attribute this inability to the trauma which they had to go through, related to the accident. As she travels to work using a bicycle, she is surprised to find out that the whole neighbourhood is awake.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: It turns out that nobody is able to sleep anymore. It turns out that anything with a microchip is fried, and of no use to anyone. Dr Murphy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a psychiatrist understands that the sleeplessness will soon lead to the symptoms of complete sleep deprivation, and finally to death, but at a quicker pace. The only exception to this seems to be an old woman, whom they are researching on, hoping to find a cure to this seemingly terrifying disease. Jill then remembers that unlike others, Matilda could also fall asleep, and she searches for her, finally finding her at the church. Brian (Finn Jones) also tries to help them, and asks her to bring her daughter to Dr Murphy, but she disagrees. The pastor tells the followers that the girl is a beacon of hope, and they should pray to God for another miracle like her. But the sleep-deprived people feels that they should sacrifice her. As there is a fight in the church, and as Brian also asks for the girl to be handed over, Jill escapes with her children. But how far can they go?

The defence of Awake :: The movie does have the smart and innovative idea and the fine beginning, which could have surely served better if the move was quicker and better focused. The idea of humans not being able to sleep, which finally leads to their loss of mind and in the end, the extinction, is really an interesting concept – anyone who might have read about it or had a clue about the same would wish to watch the movie. This one can still use the same to make a better sequel in a world which has almost reached its end with humanity. The first few moments of accidents and waking up makes a good start, and then there is the scene at the church which makes one question humanity’s inherent evil, followed by the beginning of the journey of the protagonists – all of these have some good strength. The strange moments of the movie are also innovative enough, and mostly working, especially in the first half. The mother trying to save her children and teaching the little girl how to drive, are all interesting survival additions, and could have had better purpose. Along with the same, the visuals are pretty much beautiful.

The claws of flaw :: Awake is a movie which goes on with a slower pace than it would suit a post-apocalyptic film. It often seems to slow down for no reason at all. It also hesitates to take the opportunities which are there, and despite the grand premise, cannot come up with an ending of similar grandeur. This was one great chance to make something that would be remembered for long, but that is not case here. There are so many moments which could have been dealt with, and it is surprising that both science and religion don’t have the solution, but nonsensical kids do. There could have been better explanation of the happenings around here, as we have had strange events with alien or other paranormal attacks from the skyline or even from beneath. It could have also had more action, and maybe some horror elements too, as we have the beginning of a post-apocalyptic world here, and after all, humans are capable of the worst every time. Some more special effects could have also done this one good.

The performers of the soul :: Gina Rodriguez plays the mother figure really well. There has been better appreciated mothers in the past, but she has her moments too, even though her character remains one flawed mother. Ariana Greenblatt as Matilda is pretty much an annoying kid who is weird enough, and one has to wonder if the character was deliberately designed so – we surely had some better kids in the past. Lucius Hoyos as Noah doesn’t have that much of a work to do, as this one is just another teenager moving around during a terrible event, and nothing more is added here. Finn Jones played an interesting character, but unfortunately, the person is killed all of a sudden. Frances Fisher plays the grandmother figure pretty well too. Barry Pepper who plays the pastor has some fine moments, and he also has the dialogues of faith and hope to remember. Maybe, the pastor and the church could have been there for a longer period of time than a few minutes that we had. Jennifer Jason Leigh also has something to add, but we expected her to do more, after we had her in the earlier stages of the movie.

How it finishes :: The movie has a really interesting main idea – what would happen if we lose our ability to sleep? It is a question which can haunt us for a very long time, and this could have been a brilliant movie with the best use of the same idea. But it is certainly not the case here, as even though they have tried, the movie has struggled to live up to the idea, making it just another usual movie which goes through the post-apocalyptic world without surprises. It is often disappointing that a movie doesn’t use the best use of the opportunities presented to it. But we continue to watch this one as we are curious, and we are concerned about what is to happen next – the movie manages to create that desire to watch, and even with its slow pace, there is the movement towards that final destination, keeping it floating. It is the kind of movie which you can surely watch to pass the time, and at the same time, also ponder about the core idea – what if sleep evades you? How long can you hold on without being able to go to sleep?

Release date: 9th June 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Mark Raso
Starring: Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barry Pepper, Finn Jones, Ariana Greenblatt, Gil Bellows, Barry Pepper, Lucius Hoyos, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sebastian Pigott

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Shut In

Vampire Owl: I am used to hearing a part of this title.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that you have heard of this movie title?

Vampire Owl: No, I am used to listening to “shut up”.

Vampire Bat: That should happen naturally to you in a growing vampire community which is building a new code of conduct.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that the critics don’t like this movie?

Vampire Bat: Is that a reason why we shouldn’t like them?

Vampire Owl: Well, they liked I Am Not a Serial Killer.

Vampire Bat: That is absolutely ridiculous. They really need the word “shut up” instead of “shut in”.

Vampire Owl: It is time for us to bring the balance by supporting the correct movie.

Vampire Bat: This is indeed that movie to support!

[Gets three cups of masala tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: Richard Portman (Peter Outerbridge) and his son Steven Portman (Charlie Heaton) meets an accident while leaving home after a fight between the two – their car crashes into a truck as the differences between the two continue even inside the vehicle on the road. After the accident takes the life of her husband and leaves the son paralysed, Richard’s second wife and Steven’s step-mother, a psychologist by profession, Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) decides to care of the boy, even though it means being isolated from her own friend circle and spending most of her time with him. Separated from her own people, and often questioning her own decisions, she keeps herself going against all odds. But there is one thing that she is sure about, and it is that she has to take care of the boy.

So, what happens next? :: There is also a young kid Tom Patterson (Jacob Tremblay) who was her patient, but has gone missing. This ten year old child is deaf, and she had seen him for the last time at her own home. She does hear strange noises in her home, and there are also stranger happenings around, for which she can find no explanation. She also has her own nightmares, and the only rational explanation seems to be her inability to sleep during nights, which is bringing these hallucinations to her – but she is not satisfied with the same. Then, later, during a storm, on a strange dark night, she begins to believe that someone else is inside the house trying to harm her and Steven. Who or what is this that has come to her home without an invitation? Why does it/him/her want to haunt her and her paralysed son? Then the bigger question is about the missing child!

The defence of Shut In :: There is a strong line of mystery going right through Shut In, as it keeps us guessing from the very early stages itself. There are those moments of scare and there is suspense, as we get to that twist in the end. If you are going to ask why the protagonist didn’t figure out this or why she didn’t act like that, I am sure that I can ask why the protagonist in your favourite movie acts in such an unbelievable manner – well, it is different for each person, and being a psychologist like the main character of this movie won’t help at all; for you will never become the master of others’ minds, as each person is different as an individual and not as a robot whose “metallic emotions” could be treated by science. It is also the message of this movie – it doesn’t matter how much you think you know about others and their minds, and there is no point about claiming that you have studied it scientifically: you just can’t predict human nature.

The claws of flaw :: There are similarities to another movie which released in the same year, The Boy which also had problems with the critics, who might have decided that these movies were bad even before watching them – it is a clear reflection of the fact that some people are not qualified enough to judge horror movies, for such flicks surely need separate reviewers who understand the soul of horror, hopefully none of them includes those who reviews Bollywood drama. There is something strange going on with these people who keep rating the scarier horror movies low, and give a better score to horror movies which are not horror at all – even the thriller genre suffers from the same. This movie surely had the potential to develop better with its basic idea, and there are some points when things are not that smooth, but the shorter length makes sure that the movie survives that.

Performers of the soul :: From the beginning to the end, Naomi Watts remains the heart and soul of this movie. Seemingly getting younger every time, she is the kind of actress that everyone would love to have a in a horror movie or a mysterious thriller. You remember watching her in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering a long time ago, but we all better recognise her from the much loved horror movie The Ring and its less acclaimed sequel, The Ring Two. But the best of her for me is the 2007 version of Funny Games – she has been perfectly suited to this genre which has the thrills and scares in store. It is the same that she makes sure in this movie, as once again does her job in the perfect way – we appreciate seeing her on the screen in this flick too. Charlie Heaton and Oliver Platt also scores in between, but Jacob Tremblay only gets less to do unlike in that nice horror movie named Before I Wake.

How it finishes :: This is another nice thriller movie which has been wronged by the critics. It is a thing about them to combine and build flaws on some movies, and the critics in India usually have the tendency to copy those in the United States without shame, unless there is someone from Bollywood performing in that movie [then it will be, watch the movie for him or her]. Some people really needs to know what “bad” and “terrible” movie means, and some of those flicks include those which they have been praising so much in the last few years. Maybe they were watching another movie instead of this one – who knows? Or they do judge in a way that only their group of people understands. Shut In is worth a watch; it is no big horror thriller, but it is surely something in which you can try and spend your time – it has enough in store.

Release date: 11th November 2016
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Farren Blackburn
Starring: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay, David Cubitt, Clémentine Poidatz, Crystal Balint, Alex Braunstein, Peter Outerbridge

shutin

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.