25 June 2016 | romessanadeem
What I've Come to Expect of Flanagan
Based on my thoughts on Occulus and Hush, I've come to expect a great plot and questionable execution from Flanagan's productions and he did not disappoint in this. The heavy reliance on butterflies and a woman coming to appreciate and love a child that's not her own (among other things) reminded me of a better horror movie; Mama. All this did was make me wish I was watching that instead of Before I Wake. But then again, Before I Wake isn't a horror movie and it shouldn't have been marketed as one. The film is one part fantasy, one part drama and one part horror/thriller (whatever you want to call it) but it has a difficult time balancing this out. The script and screenplay is too half-baked to advance the film to the heights it wanted to reach.
While the characters are not totally flat, it's hard to grasp their motivations exactly. The mother (Kate Bosworth) seems to be driven more by a sense of obligation to her son and later as some sort of moral obligation to herself and her husband instead of an emotional drive toward her adopted son. (This is something which was smoothed over in the last scene of the movie though.)
Throughout the film, I had no idea how it was going to end. I was confused about where the film would go but unfortunately, so were the filmmakers. Not being able to develop a screenplay which could support the aspirations of the movie as a drama/thriller/horror/fantasy film, the ending was vague and the movie itself was full of ineffective jump scares and loud noises. Cody's affliction never manifests beyond the typical horror genre clichés that Flanagan relies so heavily upon.
Despite this, the story is undoubtedly interesting and would have fared well as a stand alone fantasy film in the hands of the right director/ writer. The dream sequences are often beautiful, the closing act has a bittersweet melancholic note to it and Before I Wake does have moments that inspire some emotion in the heart of the watcher. But so many things are skimmed over and left unexplained, even in the real world the movie tries to depict (how can one bring hidden confidential files home or break into a foster home)
While it is not totally incompetently directed, it is a messy film which can't find focus. Before I Wake is entertaining enough and fairly enjoyable, but one can't deny that it is filled with clichés and certain sequences which often become flat out boring or worse, laughable.