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Suffering the loss of a child has to be the hardest thing a parent might face and has been source for a number of impressive dramatic films. With The Wake, that loss is cause for much more than grief in a movie that echoes themes from a few other classics in the genre yet isn’t nearly in the same league and falls well short of its potential.
Arriving at a wake for an 11-year-old boy killed in a car accident, five friends enter the large isolated home of the child’s mother, Mrs. Stevens (Darla Delgado) to offer condolences. The twist is, they were all in the car that hit him, with Tyler (Bryan Brewer), being the man behind the wheel, tipsy on some hard liquor. Warmly accepted into the house by Mrs. Stevens, they enjoy some champagne and food before they all find themselves drugged and tied up in various rooms, and even as they break free of their ropes, becomes stalked by men in a russask sack masks and butcher’s knives.
Co-directed by Faouzi Brahimi and Brewer (who also wrote the screenplay), The Wake is a low budget thriller with a lot of ambition that tries hard to tell a tale of revenge and redemption, even as it trips up a number of great opportunities to do something fresh with an old formula. The single location offers some intriguing spaces for creepy shadows and jump scares, of which there are plenty, though most are easy to see coming. Admittedly, the premise is solid and having Tyler not only step up and take the blame but attend the wake is a nice spin, though it smacks of incredulity for a number of obvious legal and moral reasons (despite the film’s attempts to make it otherwise). However, once that is established, The Wake take a bizarre turn.
The wake in the film itself is not much of a solemn occasion with only a few guests and champagne on ice, hints that something isn’t right. The young friends, of which four are in relationships, make light of it pretty fast with Tyler even taking the opportunity to pop the question to his girlfriend Casey (Allie Rivera). Talk about uncouth. Perhaps by design, we instantly take a dislike to them. Maybe they deserve what’s coming. And what’s coming is pretty much a slow and listless exploration of the house as they try to gather up each other and stay out of the way of the psychos with knifes. At least the masks are wicked good.
The Wake is more curious than scary, with only a few moments that strike, most though failing to hit with any effectiveness. Questions arise quickly about how in danger they really are, and not in any psychological way but in a logical sort. How hard would it really be to stop them and why do they make the choices that they do? It strives for bits of humor but even these can’t add any punch despite a few well written gags.
It would be easy to dismiss The Wake straight away, as its budget limits much of what the filmmakers are trying to do, but actually, there is almost enough of a wacky twist at the end to stick with it, even if there isn’t much conviction by the performances, aside from Delgado who is great fun. The Wake is, at only 86 minutes, at least a quick ride and for genre fans, may have some staying power. Saved by its ridiculous but entertaining end, this could be a fun distraction for those looking for a cheap Friday night thrill. Available now on VOD.
Movie description: The Wake is a 2107 horror film about a group of friends who attend the wake of a child they accidentally killed with their car, only to be stalked by a masked assailant.
Director(s): Faouzi Brahimi, Bryan Brewer
Actor(s): Bryan Brewer, Allie Rivera, Darla Delgado |