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[FrightFest Glasgow 2024] FILM REVIEW: Wake Up

Wake Up - FrightFest Glasgow 2024 UK Premiere Review


Director: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

Starring: Turlough Convery, Benny O. Arthur, Jacqueline Moré, Tom Gould, Alessio Yoko Fontana


Written by: Alberto Marini

Produced by: Laurent Baudens

Cinematography by: Léo Hinstin

Original Score by: Arnau Bataller


Synopsis:

After vandalising a home superstore as a political statement, a group of young activists become trapped inside and must face a deranged security guard with a gruesome passion for primitive hunting.


Wake Up Film Review

Thoughts:

Social activists in horror movies are weirdly always portrayed in the same clichéd ways. There’s the one that takes it too far, the new guy who doesn’t know if he should be doing this, the horny couple who are doing it for fun and the one person who takes it way too seriously. It's odd that such a specific group even has this cliché stereotype; and I'm not saying that they can’t be well handed, just look at the bad guys from 'Die Hard' (the boss, the heavy, the nerd, the one Asian guy who’s also in Lethal Weapon) All I'm saying is that if you’re dealing with a clichéd group, you best come at it with an interesting take. I say all this to tell you that the group in 'Wake Up' almost put me to sleep...



In the latest feature from the team of RKSS (Summer of '84, Turbo Kid), comes 'Wake Up', a horror/slasher/hunter/killer type film that can best be described as 'Rambo' meets 'Chopping Mall'. The first thing I noticed with 'Wake Up' was that it wasn’t written by RKSS, the screenwriter this time is Alberto Marini who’d previously written some Spanish language action movies. My problem with the film truly lies with the screenplay as a whole. It’s uninspired and not what I've come to expect from RKSS. Last year I reviewed their previous film, 'We Are Zombies', and that was fun and inventive with hilarious dialogue. In 'Wake Up' we have 6 activist characters, who all fit into the stereotypes I've already covered, who I just didn’t care about. Watch the film and by the time they start getting taken out, I'd challenge you to be able to recall any of the characters names. 



Kevin, the bad guy of the film is played by Northern Ireland’s own Turlough Convery, who does a great job with what he’s offered script wise. His character clearly has some sort of mental disability or arrested development, but the script never truly says outright. It’s often hard to tell if Kevin enjoys killing people or if he’s nuts or if it’s revenge. It really wants to have its cake and eat it by using all of these, but I just wish his character motivation was much clearer. If he was a killer on the edge and these kids were the catalyst to his madness, that would have made sense. Unfortunately the film treats him as some sort of John Rambo character who’s using the tools at his disposal to protect himself from these kids, which isn’t a bad idea, but the kids are never a threat. At one point, Kevin becomes like a Jigsaw type character setting a timed task for the kids and it’s at that point I just gave up with the film. 


One of the aspects I actually enjoyed about the film is how brutal it can be to the characters. As I said, I hated all the kids in the film, so seeing them getting picked off one by one was enjoyable. RKSS do a great job of establishing the layout of the store, so when traps begin to be set up to kill the characters it adds an extra layer of knowing where the characters should and shouldn’t go in the store. Honestly, this feels like someone’s first feature film, technically it’s well put together but lacks style or the directors voice, but this is RKSS’s 4th film. It seems odd to me that RKSS even made this, but I don’t really blame them for its lack of imagination. I’ve been really impressed with their previous works, especially 'Turbo Kid' and 'We Are Zombies' (both features they wrote), so 'Wake Up' just seems like a misfire on their part.



The film isn’t unwatchable, not by any means, it’s just boring. With a name like 'Wake Up', you’d think it would have something to say, but unfortunately it just doesn't. The film is like going on a trip to Ikea and not getting meatballs at the end. Just disappointing. 


Verdict: ⭐️⭐️½


-Adam Neeson


'Wake Up' received it's UK Premiere at FrightFest Glasgow on March 8th

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