When it comes to watching horror movies, there are a lot of films that draw you in based off of your genre preference. Then, every once in awhile, a movie comes along that hits you smack dab in the face as if it was meant for you. I have suffered from sleep paralysis since I was 9 years old, so when I read the synopsis to Dead Awake, I was almost polarized with fear and knew I had to watch it. Sleep paralysis is so hard to explain and I know that other people that experience it have similar but different variations. So was Dead Awake a paralyzing film that hit close to home? Let’s discuss!
There is something to be said about Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination) as a screenwriter. He certainly knows how to seduce his audience by playing on their fears. The script for Dead Awake is no exception. Director Philip Guzman takes us to a place that many people don’t want to go to. The film has a pretty stellar cast with indie scream queen Jocelin Donahue (The House of the Devil) leading the pack, alongside Jesse Bradford (Swimfan), Lori Petty (Point Break), Brea Grant (Halloween II 2009), and Jesse Borrego (TV’s 24). Dead Awake was released on May 12, 2017, to VOD and Itunes.
Official Synopsis of Dead Awake:
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 concept of Dead Awake is absolutely fascinating. I believe that it is a subject matter that will interest people and I’m not just saying this because it’s something that I go through from time and again. Sleep paralysis is a very scary thing. Donahue does a fantastic job of conveying the powerlessness one feels while experiencing this tiresome terror. Not to mention, she also plays dual roles as twin sisters Kate and Beth and excels with both characters. Bradford is a fun watch per usual…although I did find his man bun rather distracting at times, which actually made it hard for me to take him seriously.
Lori Petty is brilliant as always. She is the mystery of the film and you can’t help but love and hate her all the same time. Although she doesn’t see much screen time, that does not deter away from the fact that Brea Grant completely shines and, in my personal opinion, gives a standing ovation performance. Her execution of being under the spell of sleep paralysis is flawless and hits you in the gut, especially if you’ve ever had it happen to you. Bravo!
As I stated before, the concept is clever. However, where Dead Awake begins to lose me is with the overall plot, which is if you believe in sleep paralysis, then it will happen to you and the hag will come and strangle you to death. I also cannot ignore the fact that, as soon as you tell somebody about it, then it passes on to them and now we have a Nightmare on Elm Street type of film that plays out more like The Ring. The make-up for the hag is just bad. She ended up looking and acting like a cross between The Grudge, The Ring, and The Exorcist.
I can see how when I describe the bad in Dead Awake, it may seem like I didn’t enjoy this film. I actually did like it. Parts of the film really do a masterful job at showing what someone who suffers from sleep paralysis goes through. I understand that this is a horror movie but the hag utterly killed it for me. This had so much potential. If they had stuck with shadows instead of trying to create the next modern day nightmare killer, it would have been scary and much more accurate. Yes, I was disappointed in the depiction of the how it is almost passed around like a disease when that’s not even close to how it works. The actors did great, the concept started great and then got ruined when they added in elements from every horror movie known to man. Dead Awake is not as dead arrival as it is entertaining.