Monday, October 17, 2016

31 Days of Halloween 2016: Before I Wake

2016, Mike Flanagan (Oculus) -- download

"I am sure we will add his next piece to our next series."

OK, so I guess we are seeing Mike's next one a lot quicker than I expected. Delays and releases in different countries contributed to him having two movies premiere in basically the same year. Good for us!

Damn, that was good, playing into what I like in much the way Absentia did -- a mythology, a building of the world around the source of the scares. Where the other movie developed an actual other world, where creatures were creeping out of, this establishes a child who something other than you and I. Spoiler? No, not really. Almost immediately they reveal that Cody's sleep cycle is tied to the very real, very tangible things that appear. Butterflies, lost family members and something very very evil is the centre of this particular conjuring.

Mark (Thomas Jane) and Jessie (Kate Bosworth) are adopting Cody. Cody's been through the system and his last family literally abandoned him, leaving him alone in their apartment for over a month before he was found. Cody doesn't like to sleep; he drinks colas, he pops pills and has lots of sugar before bed. At first only he knows why, but after his stash is taken away, Mark and Jessie find out why. When he sleeps, his dreams take form. Butterflies made of Christmas bulbs and the child the couple lost, appear when Cody nods off. Jessie wants Cody to sleep as much as he can, because then she gets a moving, talking reminder of her drowned little boy. But then the other aspect of Cody's dreams appears -- The Canker Man, a terrifying, alien creature that is full malevolence.

It wouldn't be a horror movie without an antagonist, but I felt the movie wanted to be more about the wonder of Cody's powers. Obviously, a simple twist in the genre could have him being visited by Professor Xavier for inclusion in a certain school in upstate New York. But the Canker Man is there, and he is deadly. And fucking scary. Once Jessie realizes she is abusing Cody's power for something that is not real, she works hard to heal Cody, to deal with the Canker Man.  Both Cody and Jessie are left with consequences of her actions, but a new life to live out.