Dead Awake

Dead Awake review
2016
5
Director: 
Phillip Guzman

SYNOPSIS: 

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.

REVIEW: 

Whether you’ve personally experienced it or simply heard your share of other people’s horror
stories over the years, it doesn’t get much scarier than sleep paralysis. Director Phillip Guzman
(Sleep No More) makes this all too relatable real life phenomenon the center of his 2016 indie
horror film Dead Awake. The film stars indie horror favorite Jocelin Donahue (House of the
Devil
, All the Creatures Were Stirring) in the lead, as well as Jesse Bradford (Cherry Falls), Brea
Grant
(Dead Night), Lori Petty (Bates Motel), and others in supporting roles.

The plotline is textbook enough, following the adventures of social worker Kate Bowman
(Donahue) as she investigates a series of mysterious deaths. Each of the deceased in question,
including Kate’s own twin sister (also played by Donahue), died in their sleep shorty after
mentioning nearly identical sleep paralysis visions of a malicious entity. Of course, the deeper
Kate digs into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths, the better acquainted she
herself becomes with the supernatural force responsible. Will she be able to stop it before it
claims her life as well? And more importantly, is Dead Awake actually worth your time, or are
you better off simply sleeping through it yourself?

If you’re not particularly into horror films that tackle well-covered territory (like mysterious
entities that torment people in the middle of the night), Dead Awake probably isn’t going to be
the film that changes your mind. This also may not be for you if you’re at all hoping to see a film that truly explores the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, because this one really doesn’t. As the characters begin to cotton onto the supernatural cause of the mysterious deaths, the film increasingly becomes about people trying their best to avoid falling asleep in the first place, so this has a lot more in common with the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise plot-wise.

That’s either something that appeals to you or not, especially in light of Guzman’s rather
uninspired directing style. Dead Awake has definite pacing issues, with lots of scenes seeming
over-repetitive or just plain unnecessary. The plot progression is also pretty predictable, with
lukewarm scares and a finale that doesn’t quite deliver on the level most viewers were anticipating. Most viewers, especially those that have seen their share of this type of film before, are unlikely to be kept up at night as they should be after watching a horror film about sleep paralysis.

Even so, Dead Awake does have its merits. The actors all turn in solid performances, especially
Jocelin Donahue in her dual role as twin sisters. There are also a few effects that deliver a fair
amount of scare value, although none of them are quite what they could have been. A horror
classic in the making it’s not, but Dead Awake is entertaining enough if you go into the
experience not expecting much beyond a predictable rehashing of very familiar territory. It also
might be something a diehard fan of this sort of film could appreciate, even if it doesn’t quite
keep them up at night after watching.

All things considered, you’re not going to be missing much if you decide to pass this one over.
However, you may want to check it out if you’re a Jocelin Donahue fan, as she really does do an
excellent job with her performance.

SIMILAR MOVIES REVIEWS

OTHER MOVIES REVIEWS

Ritual Review

Ritual

2013

A married couple with a complicated relationship, a corpse, and a room at a less than reputable motel. It’s a classic formula for a horror movie that’s no doubt familiar for many genre fans. It’s also the set-up for Mickey Keating’s 2013 film, Ritual. Ritual is the 14th original film distributed by After Dark Originals. It stars Dean Cates (Pod) and Lisa Summerscales as married couple, Tom and Lovely. Additional costars include Derek Phillips (Serum), Brian Lally, and Katherine Skelton. Ritual opens with a warning title card, promising plenty of violence to come. It... Read More

The Noonday Witch review

The Noonday Witch

2016

When you think of the most chilling horror tales of all time, there are a lot of staples that come immediately to mind when it comes to possible settings – like dank asylums, haunted houses, isolated forests, or just about anywhere that feels a little creepier and more sinister under cover of darkness. You don’t probably think of sun-drenched corn fields or bright summer days in the countryside, but The Noonday Witch may just change your mind about that. The Noonday Witch is a 2016 Czech language film brought to the screen by promising Czech director, Jiri Sadek. (In... Read More

Kairo (Pulse) review

Kairo (Pulse)

2001

It’s safe to say that we’ve created our share of iconic horror characters here in America. Horror icons like Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Michael Myers (Halloween), or Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th) are so highly recognizable, that they’re pretty much synonymous with the mere concept of a horror movie. Even so, no country handles horror quite like Japan does. Japanese horror films have a much-deserved reputation for being exceptionally horrifying and thought-provoking at the same time. You won’t find as many homicidal maniacs gracing genre screens in... Read More

The Black Room Review

The Black Room

2016

When it comes to classic horror tropes – like haunted houses and the dark secrets they hide – there’s definitely more than one way to approach material that is very familiar to the average genre fan by now. More and more modern filmmakers are adopting a cerebral approach and turning their haunted house movies into social commentaries with something larger to say. Others are focused on simply telling a good scary story with plenty of jump scares and special effects. Still more go for an exploitive approach that is almost intentionally trashy. The Black Room could probably... Read More

The Shrine Review

The Shrine

2010

The Shrine is the type of film that comes complete with lots of familiar horror tropes an avid genre lover will recognize. You’ve got the mysterious disappearance of a traveler under mysterious circumstances, as well as a team of people seeking answers as to the details of those circumstances. You’ve got a remote village in a foreign land populated by strange people who raise an eyebrow or two thanks to their mysterious beliefs and practices. Scares, jumps, and mysteries abound as the protagonists attempt to make sense of it all. Given those facts, the plotline of The... Read More