Before I Wake

MV5BMjM5NDAzNjgzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODA0MTUzMDI@._V1_UY268_CR4,0,182,268_AL_A couple who have lost their son in a domestic incident decide to foster a boy, to take the edge off their bereavement and to focus their energy on something positive.

I went into this film thinking there’d be an introduction to some devil child, or similar, and that he would stab his new foster parents in the back with his craft scissors as soon as their backs were turned. But this wasn’t so. Cody was a pretty cute kid who was never anything but polite and caring.

So how does this work as a horror film if the bereaved couple fostered a well-adapted, smart kid?

Well I’ll tell you. Whenever Cody goes to sleep he dreams, and his dreams become a reality for whoever is within close range. This might not sound like such a bad thing if he dreams about nice things, but there’s something bad that lurks in his dreams and this bad thing always tends to surface. Which the new foster parents soon find out!

Cody is aware of the scary consequences his dreams can have on others, and he’s so conscientious and thoughtful enough to try to prevent it from happening – he has a stash of stimulants under his bed (Red Bull and Pro Plus type stuff). But obviously when you’re so tired, as the teens in Nightmare On Elm Street will tell you, you’ve got to sleep eventually.

I particularly liked the way the foster parents reacted to Cody’s dreams. I could understand the mother’s desperate hope of seeing her own son again by trying to get Cody to dream about him. And I could sympathise with the father’s sense of trepidation, that what was happening was very wrong.

All in all, the storyline was actually pretty good. It was like taking the idea of Freddie Krueger and doing something new with it.

Unfortunately, however, I can only give the film 2.5 stars.

So, what didn’t I like so much?

Despite me fully understanding the motives and emotions of the characters, I never felt totally drawn into them. I dunno, something fell flat. I wasn’t wholly convinced.

My biggest issue, however, was with the antagonist itself: The Canker Man. This is the ghoul who haunts Cody’s nightmares. When it fully revealed itself in a visual sense, that’s when I began to lose interest. I guess horror is subjective and all that, but The Canker Man just made me just roll my eyes. It was too CGI’d for me to care. More often than not, less is more in horror as far as I’m concerned. I get the best chills from fleeting flashes of something moving within a shadow, the grainy outline of a figure that I can’t quite make out. Someone else’s monster, in this case The Canker Man, will often fail to scare me as much as the suggestion of it would.

I did like the story concept, which is why it gets a 2.5*. Just not the execution, unfortunately.

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