(US - 2018)
Directed by Mike Flanagan. Written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard. Cast: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, Dash Mihok, Topher Bousquet, Lance E. Nichols, Jay Carnes, Courtney Bell, Michael Polish, Natalie Roers, Kyla Deaver, Antonio Romero, Hunter Wenzel. (PG-13, 97 mins)
For a while, it was looking like American audiences were never going to see BEFORE I WAKE. Filmed in late 2013 and generating some buzz once director/co-writer Mike Flanagan's OCULUS opened in the spring of 2014 to acclaim from critics and horror fans, BEFORE I WAKE found itself a casualty of Relativity's financial problems. After shuffling the film's release date numerous times while attempting to avoid bankruptcy, Relativity eventually threw in the towel in 2015, leaving BEFORE I WAKE and several other films--including COLLIDE, THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM, and MASTERMINDS--stuck in legal limbo. While those films were eventually acquired by other distributors, BEFORE I WAKE was left behind, released everywhere else in the world except the US. In the meantime, Flanagan moved on and made three more movies: HUSH, OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL, and GERALD'S GAME. HUSH and GERALD'S GAME were two of the more successful Netflix Originals and as a result, Netflix did Flanagan a solid by picking up BEFORE I WAKE for its extremely belated release more than four years after it was completed and still sporting a 2014 copyright. One of the very few of the current crop of "masters of horror" who might actually be worthy of the title, Flanagan kept his OCULUS mojo going with BEFORE I WAKE, a horror fantasy that's thoughtful and ambitious if a bit uneven. There's one subplot that doesn't really go anywhere and there's a stretch in the second half where the pace really lags but it culminates in a climax that's raw and emotionally devastating. Flanagan cares about his characters. He's especially adept at writing strong female characters (Karen Gillan in OCULUS and Carla Gugino in GERALD'S GAME), and that's the case here with Kate Bosworth turning in the best performance of her career.
ROOM), the sleeping child in the opening scene. Cody is a quiet, sensitive orphan with an intense interest in butterflies. He warms to the Hobsons quickly, though he has contraband stashed away in a closely-guarded shoebox: after he's put to bed each night, he guzzles energy drinks and pops No-Doz to keep from falling asleep. Jessie finds out, and assuming it's because of the trauma he's endured, assures him he can sleep safe and sound in their home. What Jessie and Mark soon discover is that Cody can manifest his dreams in reality. After he falls asleep, they're visited by numerous butterflies fluttering around the living room that vanish into thin air as soon as Cody wakes. Seeing a picture of Sean, the curious Cody asks if he's in Heaven like his mother. That night, as Cody sleeps and dreams, Sean appears in the living room to greet his parents. He's physically there, smiling, hugging them, and then he disappears once Cody is awake. "I didn't mean to...I'm sorry," Cody tells them, powerless against his dreams and his ability to make them real. Of course, if his dreams are real, then genre logic must dictate that his nightmares are as well, and that becomes apparent with the arrival of a demonic figure Cody calls "The Canker Man" (Topher Bousquet), who comes into his room at night and terrorizes him with the ominous promise that "I'll always be a part of you!"