Thursday, January 31, 2019

Before I Wake (2016)

We decided to watch a horror double feature over the weekend. One film, The Open House was… well it was not very good. So we were hoping that this film would be a bit better. We had reason to hope, because we have enjoyed the work of director Mike Flanagan in the past (check out Hush or his version of The Haunting of Hill House). 


Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) are finally able to become foster parents. It was a tough road for them after the death of their son Sean (Antonio Romero). But Cody (Jacob Tremblay) is a sweet boy who seems eager to fit in. He also has had some rough events in his life. His previous two foster families met with tragedy, including abandoning him.

At first Cody seems to be adjusting well, but one night Jessie and Mark witness butterflies in their house. Cody is obsessed with the insects, and becomes apparent that when Cody dreams, elements of those dreams manifest. Jessie wonders if she can see her dead child again, if Cody dreams about him. But they have something else to worry about: Cody’s nightmares. Because one vivid horror is going to become very very real.

Good Points:
  • Creates and sustains an atmosphere of dread and the uncanny
  • Very good performances by the whole cast
  • Manages to get under your skin with its eerie moments

Bad Points:
  • If you can’t buy into the overall premise of the film, you won’t get pulled in
  • The ending will leave some viewers conflicted
  • Looking for fast pace or gore, you’ll be disappointed


Flanagan delivers a solid creepy film. He uses the couple’s grief as a jumping off point for how they deal with the powers Cody seems to have. It turns into an interesting character study, while building up some really good dread and scares. The finale may leave some viewers conflicted by the ambiguity, but overall, the film was well worth seeking out. Reminded me a bit of The Babadook, and in a good way.

Scores(out of 5)
Visuals:  4
Sound: 4
Acting:  4
Script:  4
Music: 4
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

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  1. Mood movies can work when you're in the...well...mood.

    1. Flanagan tends to go more for mood and creepy atmosphere in his films. That is probably why I actually find them unnerving compared to more shocking or gory horror flicks.

  2. I liked The Babadook, but had not heard of this one.

    1. Yeah this one looks like it was filmed and put on a shelf for a year or two. Not sure what happened, the movie was a creepy one.