‘Awake’ puts viewers to sleep

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‘Awake’ follows mother Jill (Gina Rodriguez) who will do anything to save her children, despite the worsening circumstances.

Unnati Bhat, Social Media Manager

For students all across the world, including those at Westford Academy, sacrificing a night of sleep is worth finishing an assignment, binging a show, or spending a night with friends. I know I have certainly been guilty of sacrificing my sleep for all of these things. Sleep deprivation is nothing new for teenagers, adults, and even kids. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep.

The Netflix Original ‘Awake’, which was releasedĀ on June 9, 2021 explores the extremes of sleep deprivation and its effects on human psychosis in a post-apocalyptic society.

Directed by Mark Raso ‘Awake’ follows Jill (Gina Rodriguez), a former soldier and addict and mother to two children, Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt) and Noah (Lucius Hoyos). When a mysterious catastrophe wipes out all electricity and takes away the human ability to sleep, worldwide chaos begins. Unlike the rest of society and her family, her youngest daughter Matilda still possesses the miraculous ability to sleep, one of only two known cases. This makes Matilda the target for sleep-deprived, crazed individuals looking for a cure who either want to sacrifice her, test her blood, or capture her. The movie follows Jill, Matilda, and Noah on their path to finding a cure and through the obstacles and attackers they encounter along the way.

The concept for this movie interested me at first. Questioning what this exhaustion can do to us when pushed to the extreme is a great concept for a potentially great movie. This concept could be seen as similar to themes in “Birdbox” or “The Quiet Place”. Yet, both of these movies have already been done and done well if I may add, so while “Awake” tried to fit into this category of modern post-apocalyptic films with an emphasis on family, the execution, and lack of plot development is why this film falls flat, failing to meet the expectations of viewers.

I believe this movie could have done so much better if it just took a more realistic route. While sleep deprivation can make people go crazy, killing individuals after two days in a church is simply hard to believe, along with mass naked prayer circles. The violence in this movie is so common it becomes unnecessary. The excessive shooting scenes and the way it shows some people have become violent zombies make the scenes almost comical to watch. You’re really telling me a bunch of sleep-deprived people are going to try to chase down a car and attack the passengers for no real reason? It really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Another facet that doesn’t make sense is that most of the character’s backgrounds in this film are extremely underdeveloped. This makes it difficult to understand the motivations of any of the characters and grasp an understanding of what they’re thinking about in each scene. Jill wants to protect her family, but what else? Even the main character is very one-note. The complexities of her character aren’t present and there is not much to uncover or self-growth to occur. What you see is what you get.

Despite this lackluster protagonist character profile, Gina Rodriguez does a decent job. She is a compelling actress and commands attention with her dialogue and actions. While she is far from extraordinary, she fit the role and exceeded my expectations. If she was given more personality and character development to work with, she could have really shined.

One of my main qualms with this movie’s plot is the lack of continuity or real consequences. Something happens and the characters face the issue and move on, yet these occurrences do not play a role in the outcome of the movie. This is reinforced by the tens of times all three of the main characters almost die, but are able to escape or seek revival just in time. They survive and simply move on to the next plot point, without it adding much to their character arcĀ making “Awake” feel like a collection of events rather than a movie, thus practically putting me to sleep.

I will admit, the first half of this movie was interesting. I was engaged and ready to see what happened next, but slowly I started to see how nothing would change within the characters and it was just a collection of violent scenes strung together in an effort to attract viewers to some action. Too much of this movie simply felt like a last-minute effort to enhance the poor execution given to the plot, but adding more violent scenes and disregarding the actually interesting part of the concept was a dire mistake on Raso’s part.

This movie left off with a cure found, but not a single other question answered and everyone else left dead. There was no explanation about the power outage or reason for it all, and the ending felt abrupt, just as if it was another event the characters arrived at.

“Awake” did try to be something that stood out, but in actuality it is forgettable and a missed opportunity. I would recommend this movie to anyone who doesn’t want to think too much about the mindless, yet slightly compelling media they’re consuming.

4/10