'Awake' Review: Netflix movie paints dark picture of a sleep-deprived world
Set in a world where no one can sleep, 'Awake' showcases how different people react to the situation at hand
When a sudden solar flare changes the electromagnetic wiring in all of humanity, people soon discover that they are unable to sleep. This situation suddenly turns into the ultimate ticking time bomb -- with people being unable to rest, the brain slowly begins to swell. With every passing moment, sleep deprivations cause a number of side effects, from tiredness to hallucinations to extreme paranoia.
The movie will definitely have you at the edge of your seat, seeing that every passing moment is not just a fight to stay alive, but a fight to stay sane. If you liked this movie, you should also consider checking out 'The Secrets She Keeps', 'A Party Gone Wrong', 'American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally' and 'The Woman in the Window'.
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'Awake' paints a disturbing picture of just how fast humanity would crumble if we were unable to perform the most basic bodily function of sleeping. The movie does a very interesting job of showcasing just how different people react to the situation at hand. We see Matilda's (Arianna Greenblatt) grandmother and legal guardian resort to taking her to church in hope that the local pastor can help pray and make the situation better.
However, this soon turns south when the entire congregation is ready to sacrifice Matilda, seeing that they see her as a sacrificial lamb, having lost all ability to reason. Jill, played by Gina Rodriguez, barely manages to save her daughter and as she does so, gunshots are heard in the church, marking that no place is now safe.
Every move Jill makes is a calculated one, seeing that she and her kids, Matilda and Noah, played by Lucius Hoyos, cannot trust a single person in this situation, as all reason is now dead. The movie ensures that the audience understands just how insane people would go if they were unable to sleep, seeing that some pretty chilling scenes depict the same -- we see Jill and the kids slowly driving past a herd of people, all of whom are nude and just starring at the sky in one direction.
There is also the scene where Jill is teaching Matilda how to drive when they happen across a group of people that have barricaded the roads and hung others along the side of it as a warning. Even with the climax of the movie, when the family is held captive at the military hub, there is a massive shoot-out inside the hub itself that ends up killing everyone.
While the sleep-deprived and armed soldiers believe they are under attack, in reality, it was just one soldier, who hallucinated and thought an acorn was a grenade, He soon begins to open fire and other follow, while some soldier and medics are shot, others end up killing themselves, seeing that the chaos drives them over the edge. It isn't until the end where Matilda realizes that there is a cure, although a seemingly dangerous one -- in order to help a person sleep, they have to be pushed to the brink of death and brought back, which allows their body to 'jumpstart' itself. Seeing that the same happened to her earlier on when she almost drowned but survived and that her brother Noah too, was nearly electrocuted and resuscitated, the siblings figure out that they have to push their mother to the brink of death, in order to bring her back. The scene is particularly hard to watch, as the siblings slowly drown Jill, only to pull her out just as her consciousness fades and then they try desperately to save her. Although the screen fades to black, we hear Jill labored breath, implying that she made it out alive after all.
Performances to watch
Gina Rodriquez's performance as Jill is what truly holds your attention -- you see her fight against all odds, both physical and mental to save her daughter. Even towards the end of the movie, her dialogues are reduced to her ravaged breathing and her physical acting, as opposed to the use of dialogue. Right up until the end, you can see Rodriguez lose her sanity piece by piece, as it slowly chips away, making her performance rather compelling. This truly helps convey just how dire her situation is. Even with Ariana Greenblatt, who plays Matilda, she maintains a child-like curiosity throughout the movie, flipping between grasping just how bad the situation is, to being the ray of hope of there is a chance of survival for the family.
Who will enjoy the film?
The movie isn't particularly gory per say, however, there is a bit of nudity and a lot of gun violence, especially during the climactic scenes of the movie. If blood and gunfire make you squirmish, you might want to fast forward and avoid certain bits. The movie is definitely aimed at a slightly more mature one -- there are zero horror elements to it, but you can treat it as a zombie movie, seeing that the pretext is almost the same, sleep-deprivation causes the entire human race to lose their sanity, resulting in total and complete anarchy. This movie makes for a great weekend or movie night watch -- the plot is simple to follow and it packs plenty of action as well.
Awake' is now streaming on Netflix.