Before I Wake is a 2016 horror movie directed by Mike Flanagan and starring Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane.
The film begins with a child sleeping in bed and a distressed man standing over him holding a gun.
He seems to want to kill the child, but he can't. Cut to couple Mark(Jane) and his wife Jessie(Bosworth). They are going to foster a child called Cody(Jacob Tremblay). He has no family and he has already been with other families. They have lost their own child, Shawn in an accident and they want to have another child in their lives. They bring Cody to his new home and show him his bedroom. He seems quiet. They try and reassure him that they are there for him and that he should treat it like his own home. He has a little box with him which contains stimulants to keep him awake. He loves butterflies and he looks at his butterfly book under the covers.
Jessie discovers that he has been keeping himself awake. She wonders why. He tells her that if he goes to sleep, the Canker Man will come and eat people. He tells her that it ate his mother. Mark and Jessie are surprised one evening when they see loads of butterflies come into their house. It is magical at first. Suddenly they disappear. Jessie thinks that she sees her dead son. Cody is curious about their son. That night, Mark notices a butterfly and then their son appears to them. He only stays a moment and then disappears. Cody comes in and tells them that he is sorry. Jessie shows Cody a video of Shawn at Christmas. That night, they see a Christmas tree and their son again. It seems that
Cody is dreaming their son into existence.
Jessie puts back up her pictures of her son. Mark is shocked. He thinks that she is using Cody as a substitute for their dead son. Jessie waits for her son to show up that night. Mark tries to tell her that it is not really their son. When Cody falls foul of the school bully , the Canker Man turns up and eats him. He sees the dead bully that night in his bedroom. Jessie gets sleeping tablets for Cody from the doctor to help him to sleep. She spikes his milk and makes him fall asleep so that she can see her son again. Shawn comes back that night, but he is not good. He is evil. The Canker Man turns up and he eats Mark. The police come and they ask what happened to Mark. She cannot explain it so they take Cody away and put him into a home while they investigate.
Jessie delves into Cody's background and she talks to the guy from the beginning of the movie who had fostered Cody and he has had the same experience as she had except that it was his sick wife that the Canker Man took. She finds his mother's belongings in a hospital basement. There is a butterfly pillow and his mother's journal. She takes these and she goes to the home where Cody is. He has been sedated so that he can sleep which spells trouble. She walks into his room and she sees the Canker Man. It is going to hurt her when she holds out the butterfly pillow and she hugs it. It disappears and turns into Cody. She tells him to release all of the people that he has taken. She walks out with Cody in her arms as he is still asleep.
The movie ends with Jessie telling Cody about his mother who dies of cancer and who realised that he was special and loved his gift. She had no choice but to leave him when she got too sick and Cody made up the Canker Man as he thinks that it killed his mother, but it was actually the cancer. She tells him that his gift will get stronger and maybe he can bring back some of the people that the Canker Man took. This movie was a strange one. I expected a horror movie full stop, but this has some drama in it too. There is a sad theme here which is the loss of a child and it does run through the movie. It is a sad subject and it changes this film from generic horror into a mixture of horror and drama. It isn't a great film by any means, but it is different and interesting in a way. I had heard nothing about this at all so I went in with no expectations. It was not what I expected so for that reason I will give it a 6/10.