Yesterday I watched Before I Wake, a 2016 film by Mike Flanagan, who was a writer or director for such films/series as The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Gerald’s Game, Ouija:Origin of Evil and more.
Cody (Jacob Tremblay) is a young boy who has had a rough start in life. He lost his mother at an early age and has been moved from foster home to foster home. There’s always something, isn’t there?
Jessie and Mark (Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane) lost their only son, Sean, in an accident, and are
working to deal with the grief of his death, each in their own way. Together they decide to foster a child, a with the help of a social worker named Natalie (Annabeth Gish). Enter Cody into their lives. Cody is very sweet and shy and well-mannered. He has a sharp, inquisitive mind and wants to fit in with them.
They quickly realize there is something special about Cody when butterflies materialize out of nowhere… the same day he was learning about them.
One photo of Jessie and Mark and Sean remains on the wall, and naturally Cody wants to know who the kid is. And now not just butterflies are appearing. There is Sean, seemingly in the flesh. But like the butterflies, he disappears as soon as Cody wakes. Jessie is beginning to understand what is going on. In order to test her theory, she has Cody watch a video of Sean, so he can hear his voice. And now when Sean appears to them, he actually speaks…
Trouble begins to brew at Cody’s school in the form of a mean boy who has the misfortune to accost Cody after he’s fallen asleep and can’t control the creature he refers to as the Canker Man. When the boy disappears, Cody is questioned. Now he’s afraid to fall asleep, and devises various methods to stay awake. Alarmed, Jessie gets a prescription for children’s Ambien and doses his snack. So now, when the horrors appear, they can’t wake Cody up…
I would give this movie a solid 3 stars out of 5. It’s more psychological horror than anything, although the Canker Man is rather freaky and scary. We never do learn exactly how and why Cody is what he is, how he can manifest dreams into reality (as long as he’s sleeping). This movie is about loss and survival, and becoming a family. It’s a worthwhile watch, and I would recommend it.