Movie Review: Before I Wake (2016)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2016 movie starring Kate Bosworth and Jacob Tremblay.

Synopsis: Still grieving the loss of their young son and unable to have any more children of their own, Jessie and Mark decide to become foster parents. They are given a foster son, Cody, who is polite and well-behaved. They quickly learn Cody has a special gift, whenever he sleeps, his dreams become real. However, there is a catch, his nightmares, which feature a creature he calls the Canker Man, also become real and are the reason his previous foster parents disappeared.


My wife and I came across a trailer for this movie on Netflix a couple weeks ago and, while I admittedly had a few doubts (I never trust trailers), we both agreed it looked interesting. So, when we had an opportunity to watch a movie earlier this week, we ended up putting this one on. As it turns out, it was better than I was expecting it to be.

I think the thing I found I liked most about this film was the mystery surrounding Cody's (Tremblay) menacing Canker Man (Bousquet). When he was awake, Cody was a well-behaved and very polite little boy and, because of that, it was somewhat difficult to imagine him having some sort of troubled past. Yet, at the same time, his nightmares about the Canker Man an had to come from somewhere. Was it an abusive father? Or, was there something supernatural about the creature?

The fact Canker Man had killed his previous foster parents added an element of suspense as well, especially since it wasn't as though anyone was going to believe one of his parents was eaten by a dream. And, of course, his ability to turn everything around him into a living nightmare only added to that.

My biggest complaint about this movie is, at no time, does anyone associated with Cody ever try to figure out why he has his gift. Maybe it's just me, but if one of my daughters suddenly had their dreams become real, I would want to know why. I find it very hard to believe nobody in this movie (including his former foster parents) wanted to make an effort to have him studied. If nothing else, they would have had witnesses.

I also wasn't overly crazy about the ending. Yes, it gave a satisfactory (though a bit of a letdown) explanation about who the Canker Man really was. But, it also left a lot of loose ends, especially in regards to the people Canker Man made disappear (including his reasons for making them disappear). It would have been nice to see some of those loose ends resolved.

Before I Wake [Blu-ray]

A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams - and nightmares - manifest physically as he sleeps.

View on Amazon

Final Opinion

The ending leaves a lot to be desired and ended up being a big disappointment. Overall though, I thought the movie was unique and entertaining so I would still recommend it.

My Grade: B

More By This Writer

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Internationally-selling poet and children's book author Steven Helmer presents his third book of spiritual poetry meant to inspire you to keep God's love in your heart.

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Updated: 02/01/2018, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/18/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
It's interesting that nobody cares how or why Cody has this unsettling gift. Is it possible that it's intended to tell us how impersonal and results-oriented a system such as that of placement services can be?

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