Parents' Guide to

Before I Wake

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Weird horror-fantasy has some scary stuff, some sour notes.

Movie PG-13 2018 97 minutes
Before I Wake Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 13+

I scored it 10. Let me tell you why:

Original, Beautiful Film- Not What You Expect Rarely does a film surprise me at all but this film certainly did. Mike Flannigan created an enigmatic speculative on childhood love, loss, fear and death that is both uniquely interpretive and otherworldly fantastical. For those who go into this film anticipating a run-of-the-mill horror film with gruesome effects and bloody deaths, you will be exceedingly disappointed. This film is provocative in that it makes you think and feel throughout. It is at times vastly uncomfortable, but magnificently redemptive. What it achieves is a rare feat- one I would classify more in the realm of Pan's Labyrinth than something like The Ring. What it suffers from is completely misdirected and misleading marketing which has done this gem a huge disservice. I'd watch it again. I'd recommend it to friends. Refrain from judging it based on the posters or the trailer. It's far greater than it's packaging and will probably be better received by audiences who expect more substance.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
2 people found this helpful.
age 7+

Great horror movie don’t think that it’s that violent. Pretty scary but not R scary. Great horror movie I think it’s good scare some kids because when the kid goes to sleep what he dreams about comes alive in the real world five out of five go watch it it’s on Netflix

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6):
Kids say (35):

This long-delayed fantasy-horror movie comes from a very talented director, Mike Flanagan, and has some interesting aspects, but it gets off to an awkward, nonsensical start and barely recovers. Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Gerald's Game) ordinarily knows how to build a spooky, tense world, often within limited spaces. But in Before I Wake, nothing seems nailed down. The main couple's grief isn't dealt with -- she's in therapy, he isn't -- and it's unlikely that they'd be ready or allowed to adopt a foster child in real life.

This sour note hangs over the entire movie; not even the sweetness of fine child actor Tremblay (who has also starred in Room and Wonder) can lighten Before I Wake's unpleasant sense of fatalism. Essentially, Cody is in jeopardy, and no adult is in a position to help him, certainly not brooding Mark or the snap-judgment social worker. It's not until late in the movie, when Jessie swings into detective mode -- as opposed to parental mode -- that the movie's thriller aspect kicks in and things start clicking into place. On a technical level, the movie's CG effects are colorful but chintzy looking, although the "Canker Man" monster is actually pretty frightening.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate