Follow your dreams. We’ve heard this motto before. But sometimes, your dreams follow you. As you know, dreams and nightmares are quite different, but “Before I Wake”, which was presented in a special advanced screening at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival (with director Mike Flanagan and star actress Kate Bosworth present), will definitely confirm that for you.
Jessie (Kate Bosworth; “Straw Dogs”, “Superman Returns”, “Blue Crush”) and Mark (Thomas Jane; “The Mist”, “The Punisher”, “Dreamcatcher”) have shared a horrible loss: their young son drowned in their bathtub awhile back. Slowly going through their healing process, they finally come to the point where they feel ready to adopt. Their path comes across Cody’s (10-year-old Canadian actor, Jacob Tremblay; “Room”, “The Smurfs 2”); the most charming and polite young boy they (and probably, you) have laid their eyes on. However, their lives are about to be turned upside down. What they ignore is that Cody has a gift: when he falls asleep and his mind drifts off, whatever he is dreaming about comes to life simultaneously as he is sleeping. The essence of his dreams can interact with whatever, and whomever, it comes across, even able to have real physical contact. The poor young boy is secretly aware of his gift, which he considers more as a curse, as he constantly attempts to stay awake to avoid any harm to those around him. Eventually, though, everyone succumbs to the power of sleep, and Jessie and Mark will also discover that they may succumb to something else…
Director Mike Flanagan (who also directed “Hush”, “Oculus” and “Absentia”) insisted in mentioning, before the screening of his latest film, that “Before I Wake” should not be considered as a “horror” movie, even though there are some horrific instances. It should rather be viewed more as an fantasy movie for adults. I agree with what he claimed. It is a beautifully crafted story, mixed with stunning visuals; from the beautiful butterflies, fluttering around Cody’s new guardians during his first dreams with them, to the creepy, sinister being who has laid a path of destruction in the boy’s past and has laid a firm grasp on him.
I absolutely adore Thomas Jane as an actor, so he had already won my heart even before pronouncing a word. I love how this tremendous actor can speak different emotions by simply using his eyes. I also appreciate Kate Bosworth performances, as she always seems very honest and genuine in anything she participates in. Young Jacob Tremblay was a great revelation for me, as you cannot help but fall in love with this boy’s humble charisma. The delicate sound of his voice, the thoughtful gazes in his eyes, and the wide range of emotions that he can display will all mesmerize you.
However, despite having a fantastic and touching storyline, great actors and impressive visuals, something didn’t quite have my mouth gaping in awe or my heart racing in shock or worship due to “Before I Wake”. Perhaps that wasn’t Flanagan’s intent, but nothing seemed to grip my heart and mind into this movie and forget everything around me. I appreciate how the plot is revealed, bit by bit, with a satisfying explanation in the end, but I can’t quite put my finger on the reason as to why it wasn’t a movie that I will be reminiscing about or suggesting to everyone for years to come. Obviously, that’s simply my opinion and perhaps you will be much more captivated by the film than me.
“Before I Wake” still deserves a watch for all of its interesting aspects mentioned above, deserving 3.5 stars out of 5