THE WAKE * U.S.A. 2017 Dir: Faouzi Brahimi, Bryan Brewer. 87 mins
A cleaver-wielding killer, identity obscured by a tater-sack mask, stalks the various unsympathetic attendees of a wake in the middle of nowhere. This back-to-basics slasher set up, complete with over-played red herrings and characters who helpfully feel strong enough to talk before expiring, is executed in a fashion that is laughable and tedious…but mostly tedious.
It also takes a left-turn into occult horror territory for a climactic twist accompanied by sub-OMEN-style choral music, though this won’t be a revelation to anyone who has seen the film’s poster, which saves potential viewers 87 minutes by blowing the “surprise”. Accompanied intermittently by drippy soap opera music that tells us when to be “SAD”, the script is on the level of a daytime Australian TV drama. An obviously ill-fated character says “I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” Characters with all-too-obviously fatal wounds are reassured by their solemn friends: “You’re gonna be fine…” And a woman, whose 11 year old son has just been killed in an awful accident, calmly resigns herself to that hoary old cliché we always unleash during periods of intense grief: “Everything happens for a reason”. It’s bloodless and piss-weak in the slasher department and bows out with a final scene presumably intended as a last-minute shock, but merely comes off as desperately cynical (and narratively senseless). Valuable life lesson : never, ever trust a horror film that features outtakes in its end credits.
Review by Steven West