Before I wake has an unusual and creative premise. Sadly, it is let down by terrible execution.
Before I Wake Synopsis
Bereaved couple Jessie and Mark adopts eight-year-old Cody after the death of their young son Shawn. Joyous at first, they soon discover that Cody has the unique ability to make his dreams into reality. While his peaceful dreams bring forth beautiful visions, his nightmares manifest a dangerous monster Cody calls The Canker Man. As Jessie investigates Cody’s history, she learns that she is not Cody’s first foster parent, and that previous tragedies have happened. Determined to save Cody, Jessie probes deeper. She is then confronted by the truth of what The Canker Man actually is.
Couple of years back, an all-important truth about creative work dawned on me.
Concept is easy to come up with. But skillful execution is what differentiates professionals from amateurs.
Think about it. You prepare a strong cup of coffee. You sit down and you let your mind go wild. Chances are, you’d be able to come up with some pretty wild ideas. On the other hand, the most effect way to translate your ideas into effective ad campaigns, messages, or movies. Now, that’s a different business altogether. One that most people tend to fail at.
Before I Wake is one such failure. It started off with a pretty intriguing premise. An unusual take on the overused evil orphan / possibly evil foster parents / haunted house tropes. The way the back story is set up, there also feels to be heavy potential for discussion of complex family issues.
All too quickly, these elements become way too cumbersome for the director. The moment the nature of the “horror” is made clear, the story spins out of control and loses coherent identity. Is it still an evil orphan story? Or is it now supernatural detective drama? Heaps of unanswered questions and sub-plots freely abandoned further add to viewing frustration. I kept wondering, for example, whether there was more to Kate Bosworth’s suffering mummy persona, since so much screen time was spent suggesting she is unbalanced. That the movie abruptly switches to her being the resourceful heroine is just, bewildering. As for the explanation for the “ability” of the orphan, that returns a little of the magic from the earlier half. But again, this explanation quickly spirals towards being baffling. The entire viewing experience was really very unsatisfying.
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