Dead Awake, Jeffrey Reddick Brings Dormant Horror Theme to Life
Dead Awake Film Details
Director: Phillip Guzman
Writer: Jeffrey Reddick
Release Date: 12 May 2017 (USA)
Release Format: Cinemas, VOD
MPAA Rating: N/A
Genre: Horror/ Thriller
Running Time: 1h 39min
A young woman must save herself and her friends from an ancient evil that stalks its victims through the real-life phenomenon of sleep paralysis.
The Horror genre is obviously the perfect platform to introduce fears in its many forms. Most themes center on a psychopathic killer and or zombies. While this makes for a good splatterfest there more to Horror than this. A terrifying concept is those based on folklore. In varying cultures throughout the world, there are document tales of the supernatural. Many of these stories center on events, trauma or condition.
One interesting observation to note is the similarities between these tales. How is it possible for natives thousands of miles apart to share the same accounts? Although the names of these diabolical entities differ, dastardly deeds are mirrored. Bear in mind folklore originated in an era before rapid transit and communications.
The Succubus and Incubus are two such entities that transverse borders. Names vary between region but therein lies a common thread. The similarities are uncanny in describing what now know as sleep paralysis. With reasoning grounded in sciences, we can now brush away folklore as a diagnosis. Prescriptions and counseling provide the necessary treatment to this sleep paralysis.
Yet, with the cultures all around the world describing the same entity therein lies the what if? What if there is something more to sleep paralysis than science can explain? This is the arena Writer Jeffrey Reddick explores with Dead Awake
The production was an enjoyable watch. There are many components that came together well for the final product. While Dead Awake may have that sense of familiarity the film is original in execution. Simplicity was the key to successful delivery. The production features grounded characters coupled with commendable acting. The antagonist is iconic yet shrouded with mystery. This opens the possibility to pursue the storytelling further.
Philip Guzman directed this concept that pins science against the supernatural. The skeptic versus believer has become more common in the latest Horror releases. Much like the characters, the conflict between two beliefs become integral to the plot.
Minimal CGI and efficient storytelling were major assets in conveying a profound Thriller. Most Horror films that delve on the supernatural rely on elaborate eye candy to support the plot. Portals opening across walls, entities crawling out of TV sets are not presented in this Dead Awake. Thank goodness! The absence of these clichés and many others like it makes Guzman’s film outstanding. The production team went with a sense of realism for every component in Dead Awake. Ambiance and set designs reflected and corresponded well with the characters.
Composer Marc Vanocur created a soundscape that heightens a sense of fear. The score in the opinion of this author parallels that from a survival Horror video game. The comparison lies in that sense of dread and the unexpected. Vanocur ‘s score on Dead Awake is commendable in capturing the right atmospherics in a Horror film.
The otherworldly entity seen in Dead Awake had a Japanese aesthetic. It’s movement as it crawled across the floor is outright creepy. Much like the ghosts found in Asian Horror films the antagonist in Dead Awake had a simple design scheme. The makeup effects were subtle. The prosthesis used for the creature design merely overextended the features of the actress. This gave the creature a goblin-like impression all without it being too grotesque.
The plot is a perspective rarely explored in Horror cinema. In fact, Wes Craven‘s concept may be the only defining take on sleep and dreams as a platform for Horror. In Dead Awake the story, direction, and pace thereof become engaging from the opening act. Audiences will connect with the protagonist and her realistic based problems. The supporting characters also are favorable in design and approach. Providing insight on the dueling factors in sciences is one of few areas in the film that is lacking.
The cast as a collective did a remarkable job of providing real life entities. This includes the creepiness of the antagonist. Actress Jocelin Donahue does steal the spotlight for her double role. In fact, Donahue’s performance was seamless between her role as twin sisters Kate and Beth Bowman. It appears as if two different actresses portrayed each role.
Dead Awake does have its flaws. The role of Dr. Sykes was difficult to ingest as anything but convincing. Although actress Lori Petty did well in her role it was the delivery that failed to convey tone. A Comedic element hovers over this talented actress reading her in a serious role wasn’t as straightforward. It would have been beneficial to see a darker side to Petty’s performance.
The antagonist lacks a suitable introduction and/or background within the storyline. There is no reason behind the creature’s actions. Dead Awake does not serve as a springboard for this character. Yet, adding more about this character would have been a worthwhile addition. It would have been beneficial to the plot to have known more about this entity.
Phillip Guzman created impressive work on his directorial conception, Dead Awake. The simplicity in the visual narrative is a change of pace. This is in comparison from the typical CGI-infused themed variants. Jeffrey Reddick pens an engrossing story of perseverance and battling one’s demons. The only reservation lies with the lack of storyline for the antagonist. While there are science and the historical basis for this character. Its actions are not disclosed to the viewer. The conflict between the authorities in the sciences would have been an interesting feature.
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