Combining fantasy and fear, Before I Wake is now available on Netflix.
Director Mike Flanagan is a horror fan who likes making movies; not necessarily horror movies, but movies. He and co-writer Jeff Howard have brought amazing stories to life with their collaborations, and Before I Wake is no different. It’s a heartbreaking tale chock full of grief and pain. And it could have had so much more sway had it not been tampered by a giant version of Mary’s mother from Spongebob.
The beginning of Before I Wake is so strong with the scares, it’s a shame it didn’t keep up with the out of focus shots and the “barely there” moments of fright. That was also the strength of Hush until the antagonist was front and center. The monster of the movie wasn’t particularly harrowing, and its evident animation took a lot away from its potential, which is commonplace with modern horror. There were some disturbing moments in the film that didn’t involve the antagonist, The Canker Man, but instead the actual story. They weren’t always conveyed visually; the idea of them alone was unsettling and that aided with keeping the mood of the film dark.
Great performances throughout, although Thomas Jane was underused for the majority (and capped with really bad hair).
Being very similar in format to Flanagan’s other films, it had an eerie beginning, a middle portion where the antagonist was very comfortable being on screen, and then a rushed, inspirational resolution. Most of his films are labeled as horror, although they may be better suited as “Lifetime Midnight.” That isn’t a knock by any means. He and his collaborators create these emotionally driven pictures that always root for the good guys and happy endings. There shouldn’t be happy endings in horror.
Much like Gerald’s Game, it’s a riveting story that stirs up great emotion, but it won’t keep you up at night and may seem like a drama at times. There are some aspects that go unresolved and many may take issue with that. However, it’s successfully willful in its goal to discuss painful human experiences.