31 Days Of Horror: “Dead Awake”



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Posted October 2, 2017 by

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Sleep paralysis is a terrifying experience. Myself, and quite a few people I know, have experienced it one or more times and the stories are always the same. You wake up, but you can’t move. It feels like there is a heavy weight on your chest. You have a horrible feeling of dread, and you panic. It is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and you would think that it would be the perfect thing to make into a horror film. You already have plenty of scares in supply, going in. Legends of demons, ghosts, and old hags attacking the paralyzed are easy pickins, when it comes to writing a spooky screenplay and setting up a nightmarish tale. That’s what you would think anyway…

When her twin sister Beth (Jocelin Donahue) dies mysteriously in her sleep, Kate decides to investigate. Armed only with the knowledge that Beth, who had been struggling with sobriety, was suffering from sleep paralysis and claimed to have been attacked by something during her sleep, Kate enlists the help of Beth’s boyfriend (Jesse Bradford), a former doctor (Jesse Borrego) who believes an evil spirit is murdering sleeping people by the thousands, and Beth’s friend Linda (Brea Grant) who also suffers sleep paralysis. Kate doesn’t have to look for long, before she sees what killed her sister. It’s the “Old Hag”, and she isn’t finished strangling the life out of people just yet.

From there, the plot basically becomes Kate and Evan running around, trying to find a way to stop the killing while also trying not to fall asleep for fear that the Hag will strike (ala A Nightmare on Elm Street). That’s it… That’s all that happens. Well, the Hag does off a fair number of people, but the kill scenes are all identical. Person falls asleep, person semi-wakes up but can’t move, Hag comes crawling towards person, Hag chokes person while hissing at them. By the third time, I was rolling my eyes saying “Can’t the Hag do anything cool like swallow someone whole or pull their head into a television set?”. It was painful. Also painful, was the waste of a perfectly capable cast. Donahue and Bradford are both pretty damn good, despite being handcuffed by a muddled script and a one-dimensional villain. Jocelin Donahue continues to rise up the ranks of actresses I am excited to see in future projects.

“Dead Awake” is just not good. It’s not the worst movie of the year either, but it lies somewhere in the middle (leaning more towards the bad). If you are bored, and want something mindless to watch on Netflix, go ahead. Otherwise look somewhere else for your scares this October.




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