Mike Flanagan Creates a Beautiful Nightmare in the film “Before I Wake”


Written by Shannon McGrew

I remember a few years ago a friend of mine sitting me down and saying I had to watch a film called “Absentia” by director Mike Flanagan.  I had no idea what it was about, but taking the advice from a trusted friend, I sat down and watched it.  To say I was blown away is an understatement.  I absolutely loved the film and since then I’ve been following Flanagan’s career closely.

Fast forward to 2016 and two out of three films Flanagan directed are released – Universal Picture’s “Ouija: Origins of Evil” and Netflix’s “Hush”.  Both films are fantastic and I highly suggest watching them, but what we are here to discuss today is his third film, “Before I Wake”.  iHorror reported back in August that the film was supposed to be released in September, but Relativity pushed it back indefinitely (due to the company becoming bankrupt) and sadly, the film may never get to see the proper light of day.

With all the chatter that was surrounding the film, I knew I had to find a way to see it.  Luckily, it’s available for purchase on Amazon Canada and the Blu-ray supports Region A players.  With that in mind, I bought the Blu-ray fully trusting that whatever Flanagan created in this film would be completely worth it and I eagerly awaited its arrival.  I’m happy to report that the wait was so worth it as this film now has become one of my favorites.

“Before I Wake” centers around a young couple who decide to foster an 8-year-old boy named Cody.  They soon come to realize that Cody is terrified of falling asleep, because when he sleeps his dreams begin to materialize. The couple are amazed at what manifests before them, but their awe soon turns to horror as they begin to witness the other side of the coin, as Cody’s nightmares begin to come to life.  The film stars Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay and Annabeth Gish.

This film is more than just a horror film; however, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t terrifying images and/or themes presented throughout the movie.  Ultimately, this film is about love, about the bond between parents and their children, about sickness, death and loss and the ways we cope with that.  It’s an emotional film beautifully crafted with amazing performances and visual storytelling.  With all that said, there were still moments in this movie that scared the shit out of me, most notably the visual representation of Cody’s night terrors in the form of “The Canker Man”.

“Before I Wake” got under my skin in a way that few films have.  There were times when it literally terrified me and I could feel the anxiety building as I waited to see how certain scenes would play out.  I also found myself incredibly moved by the overall story that was unfolding.  Butterflies are heavily represented in this film and rightfully so, as they represent transformation and hope as well as life after death.  It’s heavy symbolism for a film that some may just write off as another “scary” movie.  It forces you to see past the superficial layer so that it can reveal the heart and soult of what it really is.

It makes me sad that this film didn’t get the proper promotion and distribution that it deserved.  “Before I Wake” is a unique and beautiful film that has the power to effect those that view it while also terrifying those that are looking for something that has quality scares to it.  It’s a unique juxtaposition that not many films can pull off, but Mike Flanagan does it perfectly with this.  If you want to see the film, do a solid and make sure you order it from Amazon Canada, please don’t resort to illegally streaming or downloading it.  If you are a fan of Flanagan’s other films than I can assure you, you will love this.