Butterflies, Orphans, and a Canker man. This week we talk about Before I Wake
Before I Wake is a modern dark fairytale where dreams really do come to true. It all starts when a young boy named Caleb is fostered by the Jessie and Mark Hobson, two grieving parents who lost their son.
They try to make the perfect home for Caleb but soon discover that when he sleeps, his dreams come to life.
Jessie soon takes advantage of this gift using it to bring back her son. Going so far as to force him to take sleeping pills.
I love the moral questions brought up in this story. We all understand the loss of a loved one, and given the opportunity would we have them brought back in some way?
If you think I’m giving away the story, trust me there is plenty more to it than the basic synopsis.
The film was directed by Mike Flanagan who is one of my favorite modern horror directors. He has done many amazing films such as Oculus, Hush, and most recently, Gerald’s Game.
His signature style of tight steady shots (even during movement) is present in this film, but I enjoyed seeing growth as a storyteller. Before I Wake feels closer in tone to Absentia than his other films.
I do not consider Before I Wake to be a horror film even though there are horror elements and scares. The film is a bigger story about how grief and memories shape our perspective.
The film features the familiar faces of Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane with relative newcomer Jacob Tremblay who was in 2017’s popular drama Wonder.
Before I Wake is/was Mike Flanagan’s first film after 2013’s Oculus. Yet, the film was not released in the United States until December 2017.
The film was in distribution limbo during that time.
Relativity Media, a company who co-distributed films such as Ghost Rider, Limitless, Zombieland, and countless others purchased the US rights to Before I Wake planning release for May 2014. This was later delayed, then delayed again, then delayed again again, before eventually being shelved.
The reason for the delay and eventual removal of Before I wake was due to Relativity Media filing bankruptcy due to multiple lawsuits and missing loan payments. Relativity would not emerge from this until March 2017. The rights were quickly sold to Netflix for all territories except the USA in April of 2017. Finally, in December of 2017, Netflix announced they had acquired the US rights from Relativity Media and released the film for all of us to enjoy.
Distribution limbo is not a new thing, multiple films have had their hardships through this process such as the Green Inferno, The Poughkeepsie Tapes, and the TV show Freddy’s Nightmares.
Before I Wake was received well critically with champions of the film praising the stylish tone and the mix of warmth and horror throughout the movie.
More critical views explained that while the story starts off well, the mythology falls apart with too many loose ends.
My personal feelings actually side with the critical views. I really liked the story and thought the acting was great, but still had a lot of questions by the end of the film.
Don’t take this as a bad review as I still recommend that everyone watch the film. Just because there are questions doesn’t make the movie bad. It can actually be the best thing because it starts conversation. I plan to watch the movie a few more times to see what I missed and maybe I can find answers to those questions.
No matter what, be sure to check out Mike Flanagan’s Before I Wake now streaming worldwide on Netflix!