Before I Wake review

BUTTERFLIES, sadly, get a bad rap in this supernatural thriller about a boy (played by Jacob Tremblay of Room fame) whose dreams can manifest themselves – whether he is awake or dreaming.  

The CGI used to make the beautiful butterflies and moths, that take on a magical quality, and also fill up the monster in the boy’s dreams/nightmares is a laudable effort. But, the sound effects used as the precursor to the “watch-out, here it comes” moment harkens back to the pre-The Conjuring era. Really old school!

The story is about Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) who, having lost their child Sean (Antonio Romero) in a bathtub drowning accident, take in a sweet eight-year-old orphan called Cody.

Cody, we soon find out, is terrified of falling asleep and his new “parents” soon learn why: his dreams take form. It’s not all bad at first. Cody sleeps, and there are butterflies and moths in the living room mesmerizing the couple. The beauty of these winged creatures are always ethereal.

One night before he goes to sleep, Cody sees a picture of Sean. As he sleeps, Sean appears before Jessie and Mark.

The still grieving Jessie then uses Cody to bring back Sean, in past happy incidents like Christmas.

Cody goes to school and meets a bully. Oh-oh. The nightmares start, and all our eyes are open – in the movie as well as the cinema hall.

Then, Mark gets taken by Cody’s ghostly villain – someone he calls “the Canker Man”. The bully also goes missing. Cody is taken away by Social Services, but Jessie decides to find out the reason for Codu’s problem.

It stems from his mother’s death. The premise of dreams coming true is not new. The reason for such manifestation, as revealed in this movie, is an interesting one. To reveal it would be a spoiler for audiences.

While the cast did a credible job, the star is young Jacob. The camera has captured a clear, innocent look in his rather beautiful, big eyes.

Horror doesn’t have to be about zombies and killing sprees. While this movie tries to explore some truths about human nature (like using Cody to “visit” a dead child again), the scares offered are just too predictable.

A ho-hum offering at the cinema.

** This review appeared in the new straits times, april 2016

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Filed under Arts, Cinema
Subhadra Devan

A journalist who has been writing about culture, arts and heritage since the 1980s. She is herself gobsmacked to have started the Sunday arts pages for English newspapers in Malaysia, in the new millennium. The passion for these genres rages on.

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