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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Review: Awoken

Director: Daniel J. Phillips
Screenplay: Alan Grace and Daniel J. Phillips
Year: 2020

Sleep is one of the basic needs we have as humans to survive and function in a manner that can be considered normal. Sleep deprivation can cause concentration issues, memory issues, unbalances in the immune, cardiac, and digestive systems or allow demons to enter your body, or at least this is the mythos that “Awoken” explores.

A young man suffers from a strange illness that doesn’t allow him to sleep and which consequence is death. His sister, a medicine student, seeks all the resources available to try and help her brother and save his life. While she tries to help his brother, she discovers that the cause of his condition and the consequences are much more sinister than what she should have imagined.

The idea to use sleep-related illnesses may have not been as exploited in the world of horror as much as they have the potential to be. Conditions like insomnia and sleep paralysis are horrific by themselves and they open the doors ajar for a surrealistic world full of possibilities. Maybe the most important exponent of these possibilities is the mythical Freddy Krueger in the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, but besides this successful franchise, no other worthy representative comes to mind.  

As interesting as the description of the plot for “Awoken” might seem, the movie is not as enjoyable. The plot on the script of Alan Grace and the also director Daniel J. Phillip, both debuting in their roles, is linear and easy to follow, but at the same time, it is predictable and holds little surprise. They also abuse from every stereotype and clichés of possession movies to the extent of even imitating the crab walk from “The Exorcist”.

The characters are not all that attractive and the number of dumb choices they take is hard to ignore. The job of the cast, starring Sara West (“Ash vs Evil Dead”), Erik Thomson (“The Black Balloon”), and  Benson Jack Anthony (“800 Words”) doesn’t help to get interested in the characters and the acting suffers from being too rigid. The practical special effects are not bad, but the digital ones leave a lot to be desired and only help to highlight the problems of this movie.

“Awoken” seems to have an original and fresh idea in horror, but it falls prey to all of the genre's clichés, particularly those of possession movies. The plot of the movie is linear and predictable, the work of the cast is not great, and the special effects mediocre. Truth be told, there is little that can be enjoyed about this movie that fails in almost everything it proposes, and that does not make the most out of the original ideas it brings.

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