If Dreams Come True, Will Nightmares?
It starts out as a great idea: a weird kid whose powers include making dreams come true. Grown ups love the beauty of the dreams but don’t know how to control his nightmares. You get goosebumps just thinking about it. But the execution is so slow, you find that you’re trying hard to stay awake.
I love horror films. I am willing to give in to the spook inside the closet, or the dead who have not crossed to the other side. I love haunted houses and creepy lakes and forests that swallow people. So the kid who does not want to sleep because bad things happen, is a great, great premise for a scary movie.
The little kid is chosen well. Just like Damien in the original Omen, he has a sense of the angel and evil about him. This is the same kid you saw in Room - Jacob Tremblay - and you know he has screen presence. He plays Cody, the orphan with a secret history with foster parents.
Mark and Jessie are the new foster parents, played by Thomas Jane (you saw him in The Punisher and Dreamcatcher) and Kate Bosworth (you saw her in 21 and Still Alice). They have been recently bereaved and the decision to bring a child back into their home has been tough. But they do the right thing for Cody. They remove all but one picture of their dead child Shawn.
Little boy Cody is so cute, so well-behaved, your heart immediately goes out to him. And the magic he brings home is just so amazing, you feel he is going to bring the smile back to Kate Bosworth’s face.
But the home and it’s dark colors does nothing to help heal. The director fails to get Jessie out of her misery and you see both foster parents do everything slowly and mechanically. This makes for the movie to be automatically slow-paced. Mark at least shows that he’s making an effort to lighten the heaviness at home. Kate Bosworth could have been a truly creepy mom had she been happy during the day and waited for Cody’s dreams to fulfill her own at night. But she wanders around expressionless and melancholy all through the film, and it becomes a tedious watch.
Loved the special effects the child’s dreams bring to the home, and up to a point the nightmares are creepy too. But the imagery of a moth swarm coming out of a demon face is not new, and fans of horror will not get too spooked by it. Yet the director Mike Flanagan manages to deconstruct the fears very well. This movie was supposed to be titled ‘Somnia’ as the third movie after Absentia and Oculus, but the title Before I wake is curious enough for you to explore.
If you like your horror served on a platter of loud noises and screams, then maybe you will be disappointed. I hated the really slow pace of the film, but there’s something wonderfully creepy about the premise and the promise of more horror in the last scene between the boy and his new mom which helps you come back home and check for monsters under your bed…
(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)