Horror review: Awake



In Awake, Vancouver-born Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker in the most recent Star Wars flicks) plays the incredibly wealthy–and terribly ill–Wall Street tycoon Clay Beresford. He inherited a multimillion-dollar company from his father, but he desperately needs a heart transplant if he’s going to see 30. Luckily for him, one of his closest friends, Jack Harper (Terrence Howard), is also a heart surgeon, albeit one who is facing numerous malpractice suits.

But because Beresford trusts him, and likes fishing with him in the East River, he decides to have him wield the scalpel instead of the distinguished surgeon-general-to-be (“My hands have been inside presidents!”) his domineering mother (Lena Olin) wants to use.

Not only is Mom outraged at her son’s impertinence, she’s none too thrilled when he announces his imminent marriage to her assistant (Jessica Alba), with whom he’s been secretly involved for a year. Coming off the unfortunate Good Luck Chuck, Alba acquits herself admirably in this role and suggests, for the first time, that she’s more than just a pretty face (and delectable bod).

Things get pretty corny once Beresford hops onto the operating table and experiences “anesthetic awareness”, a condition in which a patient is paralyzed by anesthetic but still conscious. Yeah, that’s right: you can’t move, can’t even blink, but you can feel exactly what it’s like to have someone slice open your chest and remove your heart.


In the middle of the operation, Beresford undergoes an out-of-body experience; his ghost/spirit/whatever walks around the hospital, eavesdropping on conversations that reveal a shocking conspiracy, while his voice-over offers a play-by-play. This near-dead-dude-trying-to-save-himself routine fell flat earlier this year in The Invisible, but in Awake the performances are strong enough from all involved–especially Howard and screen vet Olin–that you’re tempted to overlook its inherent silliness.

Although Awake isn’t close to being a top-notch suspense-thriller, first-time writer and director Joby Harold injects just enough twists and turns to make this trip to the OR a strangely enjoyable one.

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