Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: After a devastating global event wiped out all electronics and eliminated people’s ability to sleep a former soldier may have found a solution with her daughter.
Review: There have been a few horror movies out there that took the concept of “don’t fall asleep” and made it terrifying, most famously among them being A Nightmare on Elm Street. But what about the other side of that coin? Human beings, for supposedly being the “dominant” species on this planet, are for the most part fragile things. And the same way falling to sleep might cause a fedora-wearing, terrible-sweater-having sleep demon to take your soul, NOT being able to sleep is a thousand times more terrifying because let’s face it, the latter is 100 per cent more likely to happen.
Listen. I’m glad you’re a fan of the show, and I’d love to chat with you about it, but we’re in a bit of a rush here
The film follows a young mother and ex-soldier named Jill (Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin fame) who is struggling to get her life back on track after losing custody of her kids. Things go from bad to apocalyptic when a global event somehow affects everyone’s ability to fall asleep except for a unique few, one of whom happens to be her young daughter Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt). And with everyone around her slowly going insane from sleep deprivation Jill has to go on the run with Matilda and her teenaged son Noah (Lucius Hoyos) in the hope of finding either a cure or a safe haven for her children.
The first tick in the win column for me here is this movie’s runtime. At about 90 minutes in total director and co-writer Mark Raso doesn’t waste any time getting to the crisis at the centre of it all. And I appreciated how he kept the pacing tight here, as these types of thrillers can get boring quickly if too much time is spent on exposition. Another positive note is the acting. There are solid performances by all involved but we’re mainly focused on this family of three and the insanity they have to deal with as things go off the rails faster than you can say “NyQuil”.
Janey’s got a gun…
Gina Rodriguez is very believable in her role as mother and former soldier, a woman who can handle herself in dangerous situations but who also tries to keep a level head (knowing when to run and when to fight). Shamier Anderson, who I last saw in the television show Wynonna Earp, plays an escaped convict (is it escaped if he just walked out?) named Dodge. He doesn’t have that much screen time but he still manages to leave a good impression. And Jennifer Jason Leigh, who plays Dr Murphy, a scientist trying to find a cure for what’s happening, is also surprisingly underused considering she’s, you know, Jennifer Jason Leigh!
The concept here was also one I hadn’t seen done to this level before. And as someone who suffered with insomnia for years the idea of being unable to sleep for days was not only relatable but downright chilling. The longest I ever went without sleep was about two and half days and you’ll be surprised how quickly you start to lose track of time and even your own thoughts, so you can imagine how bad it would be not being able to sleep for days on end. I felt like they did a solid job of depicting what this would look like but I also think they missed an opportunity here to go bigger. For instance, we see people in hospitals not being able to get surgery because anesthesia doesn’t work and, on the other end of the spectrum, people who have been in a coma for years suddenly waking up. But that’s about the size of it. I felt like they could’ve gone a bit further with this and maybe show us more of the world instead of just focusing on this one family, at least for the first half or something.
I’m wide awake
losing getting any sleep
I picked up every piece
landed crashed on my feet (I’m wide awake)
At one point a young scientist played by Finn Jones (aka the worst Iron Fist ever, and yes, he is the only live action one, but he is still the worst) explains the effects of sleep deprivation over the course of a week. Symptoms such as delusions, memory loss, and poor impulse control are just a few of the examples, but we only see these things happen in broad strokes. Some type of countdown clock or a visual representation of how many days had passed would have made things a bit clearer. And I also felt like it would’ve helped ratch the tension up a few notches knowing how close time was to running out for humanity. The ending was also a bit cut and dry for my taste, again affected by the choice to focus on this one family instead of opening things up a bit more.
Still, Awake has an intriguing premise, engaging actors and a short enough runtime to make it easy to recommend. It’s no A Nightmare on Elm Street, but it’s better than 2016 horror film Before I Wake, so feel free to check it out.
And don’t forget to get some sleep people. Those zzzz’s are important!
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
You can check out more Sci Fi thrillers below:
Netflix’s Sci Fi Thriller ‘Oxygen’ Will Take Your Breath Away
The Platform is an Excellent Sci Fi Thriller
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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