Mike Flanagan’s next film, which he co-wrote with Jeff Howard, was Before I Wake. Leaving behind the real-world terrors he visited in Hush, he delves into more supernatural territory and family drama, a realm in which he truly excels.
This time out, we are introduced to Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark Hobson (Thomas Jane) a married couple reeling from the sudden death of their only child. They have decided to adopt, and welcome Cody (Jacob Tremblay) into their lives.
Cody has been in several homes, none of which have worked out, and some have ended in disaster. But the Hobsons believe they are ready and open their homes to the young boy.
But Cody has some issues, he’s haunted, mentally and physically by something he calls the Canker Man, and he’s afraid to sleep because his dreams take on a reality, the good and the bad ones.
Jessie and Mark are missing their late child, and they are given glimpses of him through Cody’s dreams brought to life. But there is a darkness lurking as well, and when he is plagued by nightmares things can turn deadly.
While the concept is a little iffy, the execution is as good as you would expect from Flanagan. You get characters that are completely developed from the off, with their faults and flaws on full display because they are a couple, a family, and they can call one another out on things. And there are the figures in the background, unseen by the character onscreen but there for the viewer.
The Canker Man is an interesting character, and as the film plays out and we learn how he came into existence, and who he really is (though it is telegraphed from the beginning if you’re listening to the dialogue). He’s frightening and the way he’s brought to life is very cleverly done.
In fact, all of Cody’s dream-related creations that show up in the Hobson home are very cool.
There are a couple of things I have issues with, including the way the film ends after the losses the characters go through, the way they seem to have bounced back by tale’s end, as they prepare for the future seems a little too easy, but overall, it’s very cool to see that even as Flanagan is refining his stories, his visual sense is there from the off, and continues to develop organically with the story.
There are a couple of familiar faces that pop up through the course of the film, Flanagan regulars, as well as a cameo from Flanagan himself.
Mike Flanagan has quickly become one of my favorite directors, and can’t wait to delve into his next project, but I sill have one more Flanagan film to have a look at, Gerald’s Game. See you then.