Before I Wake (2016 film)

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Before I Wake
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Flanagan
Written by
  • Mike Flanagan
  • Jeff Howard
Produced by
  • Sam Englebardt
  • William D. Johnson
  • Trevor Macy
CinematographyMichael Fimognari
Edited byMike Flanagan
Music by
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • July 31, 2016 (2016-07-31) (Fantasia)
  • January 5, 2018 (2018-01-05) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$4.9 million[2]

Before I Wake (also known as Somnia) is a 2016 American horror film directed and edited by Mike Flanagan and co-written by Flanagan and Jeff Howard.[3] The film stars Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, and Dash Mihok. Before I Wake premiered at Fantasia on July 31, 2016, and Netflix released it in the United States on January 5, 2018. The film grossed over $4.9 million worldwide and received favorable reviews from critics.


An armed man nervously enters a child's room. A sudden commotion makes him pull the trigger. The gunfire awakens the child and the man breaks down in tears. Later, Jessie and Mark Hobson take in a foster child, eight-year-old Cody Morgan, after their young son Sean dies from accidentally drowning in the bathtub.

On his first night, before Cody goes to sleep, he reveals to Jessie about the nightmarish creature called "the Canker Man" to which Jessie brushes it off and tells Cody that it’s only a bad dream and it can't do any real damage. Later that night, the two are amazed as multicolored butterflies flutter across the living room, emitting a strong glow. Mark tries to capture a blue butterfly to show to Cody, as he has a liking for butterflies. However, Cody wakes up and the butterflies disappear. The next day at school, he befriends a girl named Annie and antagonizes a mean student. At home, Cody asks Mark who the child in the picture is, and Mark replies that he is their dead son, Sean. Cody answers that his mom is dead, too. That night, the couple see their deceased child and try to hug him. When Cody wakes up, Sean disappears. Upon discovering Cody's gift of making his dreams become reality, Jessie takes advantage of it. She lets Cody watch home videos of Sean and, that night, the couple once again sees their beloved child. Days later, Mark accuses his wife of using Cody for his gift instead of loving him. After the argument, Mark takes down the pictures of Sean.

Cody falls asleep at school, and "the Canker Man" appears before the mean child, as Annie watches in horror and screams, waking him up. Meanwhile, Jessie goes to a doctor and complains that her foster child has trouble sleeping; the doctor prescribes medication. She mixes it with Cody's drink, unbeknownst to her husband. That night Sean once again appears before them but turns into a nightmare. Mark attempts to wake Cody up but cannot. Jessie confesses that she drugged him. The nightmare creature devours Mark as Jessie is thrown across the room and falls unconscious. She wakes up with Cody on the phone calling 911 for help. Suspecting domestic violence and that the boy has been drugged, social services takes Cody away to an orphanage.

Jessie steals Cody's social worker's files and talks to his former foster parent, the man from the beginning named Whelan Young as he tells Jessie about what happened to his wife being killed the same way Mark was killed. Whelan tells her that the only way to stop Cody's nightmares is to put an end to Cody himself. Jessie objects to this and goes to the orphanage to find Cody.

At the orphanage, the staff have noticed that Cody has not been sleeping for the past two days. That night, the boy is given a tranquilizer, which he protests against helplessly. Jessie arrives to find the place dark and isolated. She sees nightmarish creatures in every room. Finally, she finds Cody, but before she can go near him, she is thrown across the hallway by one of the creatures. She pulls out a pillow shaped like a blue butterfly, and hugs the creature. As she holds it, it takes the form of Cody and disappears. Before it disappears, she whispers to him and asks him to release all the people the creatures have taken. The nightmare turns into a beautiful dream, and all the people taken by "the Canker Man" reappear, though only as dreams themselves. Jessie takes the-still unconscious Cody home.

The following day, Jessie gives Cody the journal his birth mother Andrea had kept, which shows how much she had loved him and his gift. However, she had died of pancreatic cancer when Cody was just three years old. It is revealed that "the Canker Man" is actually his mother when she had cancer, but Cody had read the journal wrong and thought a monster had taken over his mother because of what the chemotherapy had done to her. Then she tells him that there is more to his recurring nightmares than meets the eye, and Cody begins to learn how to control his gift.



On September 7, 2013, it was announced that Oculus director Mike Flanagan was set to direct a horror film called Somnia he co-wrote with Jeff Howard for Intrepid Pictures, and that the producers would be Trevor Macy and William D. Johnson, with Demarest Films' Sam Englebardt co-producing and co-financing the film with MICA Entertainment headed by Dale Armin Johnson.[3] Focus Features International initially handled international sales of the film.[3] On November 7, 2013, it was announced that Sierra/Affinity would now handle all international rights which were previously held by FFI.[4] On April 4, 2014, Relativity Media acquired the US distribution rights to the film.[5] In March 2015, the title was changed to Before I Wake, apparently over Flanagan's objections.[6]

On November 7, 2013, Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane joined the lead cast of the film as the child's parents, and Jacob Tremblay was set to play as Cody.[4] On November 18, 2013, Annabeth Gish joined the cast of the film to play Natalie, the case worker assigned to young Cody.[7]

Filming commenced on November 11, 2013, in Fairhope, Alabama.[8][9][10] On December 12, 2013, the crew filmed scenes at Barton Academy.[11] Filming completed on December 16, 2013.[8][9] The music was composed by Danny Elfman and The Newton Brothers.[12]


On April 4, 2014, Relativity Media acquired the US distribution rights to the film.[5] The film was originally scheduled to be released on May 8, 2015, but was pushed back to September 25, 2015, and later pulled from the schedule due to the company's filing for bankruptcy.[13] The film was rescheduled to April 8, 2016,[14] and then rescheduled to September 9, 2016.[15] It was then pulled from the schedule.[16]

In June 2016, it was announced that the film would screen at the Fantasia International Film Festival in July.[17] The film had its North American premiere there on July 31, 2016, while still being distributed by Relativity Media.[18] Excluding the United States, Netflix released the movie worldwide on April 28, 2017.[19] In December 2017, it was revealed that Netflix had obtained United States rights to the film from Relativity Media, thus owning worldwide rights.[20] Netflix released the film in the U.S. on January 5, 2018.[21]


As of June 2020, the film holds a 66% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 35 reviews and an average rating of 6.47/10.[22] At Metacritic, which assigns and normalizes scores of critic reviews, it has a weighted average score of 68 out of 100 based on 5 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[23]


  1. ^ "AMC Theatres: Before I Wake". AMC Theatres. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  2. ^ "Before I Wake (2016)". The Numbers. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (7 September 2013). "'Oculus' Director Mike Flanagan Tapped For 'Somnia'". Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b Roxborough, Scott (7 November 2013). "Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane Will Star in Horror Pic 'Somnia'". Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  5. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (4 April 2014). "Relativity Acquiring U.S. Distribution Rights To 'Oculus' Filmmaker Followup 'Somnia'". Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Mike Flanagan on Twitter". 20 July 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  7. ^ "'Somnia' Adds Annabeth Gish". 18 November 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  8. ^ a b D. Anderson, Marc (4 December 2013). "Kate Bosworth muses on Fairhope life on Twitter while filming 'Somnia' in town". Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  9. ^ a b Kaylor, Mike (22 November 2013). "ON THE SET OF 'SOMNIA': Executive producer Scott Lumpkin brings movie film crew to his hometown". Archived from the original on 6 April 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  10. ^ "Extras Casting Call this weekend in Mobile, AL for 'Somnia', starring Katee Sackhoff". 26 October 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  11. ^ Philips, Rena (12 December 2013). "Somnia movie crew filming at historic Barton Academy". Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  12. ^ Schweiger, Daniel (8 April 2014). "Interview with The Newton Brothers". Film Music Magazine. Archived from the original on 30 January 2016. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  13. ^ Miska, Brad (2015-04-09). "'Before I Wake' Flutters Into September Release". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2015-04-10.
  14. ^ Pederson, Erik (December 4, 2015). "Relativity Dates Five Films For 2016 Including 'Kidnap' & 'Masterminds'". Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  15. ^ Rainey, James (May 17, 2016). "Post-Bankruptcy Relativity Sets 'Masterminds,' Other Release Dates". Variety. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  16. ^ Miska, Brad (August 16, 2016). "Guess What? 'Before I Wake' Just Got Pulled From Release". Bloody-Disgusting. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  17. ^ Collis, Clark (June 17, 2016). "Jacob Tremblay horror movie 'Before I Wake' to screen at Fantasia Film Festival". Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  18. ^ "Before I Wake - Fantasia 2016". Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  19. ^ "Mike Flanagan's 'Before I Wake' Hitting Netflix, Except in the States - Bloody Disgusting!". Bloody Disgusting!. 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  20. ^ "Here's What's Coming to Netflix in January 2018". Collider. 2017-12-13. Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  21. ^ Collis, Clark (2017-12-13). "Repeatedly-delayed Jacob Tremblay horror movie Before I Wake coming to Netflix". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  22. ^ "Before I Wake (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  23. ^ "Before I Wake Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 8 January 2018.

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