Before I Wake (2016) Movie Review with Ending Explained


The Review

“Before I Wake,” directed by Mike Flanagan, is a film that delicately intertwines the horror genre with a poignant narrative about loss and the power of dreams. The movie follows the story of Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane), a couple grieving the loss of their son, who decide to take in a sweet and quiet foster child named Cody (Jacob Tremblay). However, they soon discover that Cody’s dreams manifest in reality as he sleeps, bringing both wondrous visions and terrifying nightmares into their world.

The film is a visual spectacle, with dream sequences that are both breathtakingly beautiful and chillingly dark. The contrast between the vibrant butterflies and the ominous Canker Man illustrates the duality of Cody’s dream world, reflecting the inner turmoil of a child processing trauma. The special effects are commendable, creating a seamless blend of reality and fantasy that serves as a backdrop for the unfolding drama.

Flanagan’s direction is thoughtful, focusing on character development and emotional depth rather than relying on jump scares or gore. This approach sets “Before I Wake” apart from conventional horror films, offering a narrative that is as much about healing as it is about fear. The performances are solid across the board, with Bosworth delivering a particularly compelling portrayal of a mother’s desperation to reconnect with her lost child through Cody’s unique ability.

The screenplay, co-written by Flanagan and Jeff Howard, does have its flaws, with certain plot points feeling underdeveloped or unresolved. However, the film’s strengths lie in its exploration of grief and the cathartic role that imagination can play in the healing process. It challenges the audience to consider the impact of unresolved sorrow and the ways in which we seek comfort in the face of the inexplicable.

“Before I Wake” may not satisfy those seeking a traditional horror experience, but it offers something arguably more valuable: a meditation on the human condition, wrapped in a visually stunning package. The movie’s conclusion may divide viewers, but it undeniably leaves a lasting impression, prompting reflection on the themes presented long after the credits roll.

Ending Explained (Spoiler Alert!)

Before I Wake isn’t a typical and predictable “happy ending” movie.  It has many plot twists and it is very clever movie.  One great difference from other horror movies is that the boy Cody is sweet and not evil.

Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and her husband Mark (Thomas Jane) are grieving the loss of their son, Sean (Antonio Romero), who drowned in the bathtub.  So, they decide to adopt an eight-year-old orphan named Cody (Jacob Tremblay), who was abandoned by two foster families. Cody is a lovely boy, and Jessie and Mark fall in love with him right away.  Soon they discovered that Cody avoids sleep at night.  Jessie and Mark believe that the boy has some kind of psychological problems.  Soon they discover that when Cody sleeps, his beautiful dreams come true.  The movie starts to get interesting when his nightmares also come true.

At the end, the movie reveals the mystery of Cody’s nightmare. The monster in Cody’s nightmare turned out to be his mother.  We also learned more about Cody’s mother.  His mother loved Cody very much but she was sick and eventually died when Cody was very young.  So, it was very traumatic experience for young Cody.  So, the monster is based on his fear of losing his mother.  At the end, Jessie finally understands what was going on with Cody.  So, when Jessie was face-to-face with the monster, she hugged the monster because the monster is nothing more than Cody’s traumatic experience of losing her mother.  But it does appear that all those people who got eaten by the monster are gone forever including her husband.

In the Nutshell

“Before I Wake” is a film that deserves attention for its ambition to transcend genre boundaries and delve into the complexities of the human psyche. It is a testament to Flanagan’s skill as a filmmaker and a reminder of the genre’s potential to tell deeply human stories.  [4 out of 5 stars]

If you already saw this movie, help us rate the movie by click on the Star Rating. 


Genre: Supernatural Drama

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  1. This movie was a great watch. I started out watching it because I thought it was a horror movie. And it did, scare me, when the monster appeared and ate people. But the beautiful, heartbreaking story of Cody and his dead mother, and the overall theme of loss presented in this movie touched my heart. It didn’t feel like a horror movie, more than it was a sad, heart wrenching story of a little kid who lost his mother, and the foster parents that lost their son, and were trying to get over him. The feeling and emotion of love were a defining point in the movie, and it really opened me up like a waterfall. Thanks to the actors and the directors for making me feel something real, not superficial, in a completely unexpected way.

  2. Why the fuck did u have to have the father die he was a good Man U made him die and it ruined the whole movie thanks for ruining my quaritine movie night . With my stimulus check I’m gonna buy a part 2

    1. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 omg I felt the SAME way!! ! The one thing I REALLY didn’t get was the fact that in the end when she was suggesting that he dream that everyone come back like nothing had ever happened EXCEPT her husband???? Why would she suggest that everyone be reunited with their loved ones but then suggest her husband be with their dead son!! Wtf is that??! Why wouldn’t she want her husband back too!!! ROTTEN ENDING

      1. Actually no one came back.. She was narrating a story to Cody and according to that story everyone came back.. She wanted him to believe that it’s a happy ending and that everything is happy and good so that he doesn’t feel sad any more and don’t dream bad things again.. As for the ending she suggested for her husband.. She cannot say he will come back or he is back coz that’s not the reality nor is it gonna be real..

  3. My husband felt asleep I watched the movie by myself, kinda scary for me , but then the end explained everything about why Cody dreams. The messed up part is the dad he’s gone. If every one that was eaten by the monster came back why the dad didn’t? I need more explanation please..

    1. I felt the same way about the dad. I was wondering why he wouldn’t have come back if the rest of them did. Though, he was also reunited with his son, Sean. I do wish that the movie told us whether they were actually going to come back or not. That is what I think at least.

    2. Hey it turns out the dad and the others didn’t come back. They are gone forever. The mom just tells him that they are now in a “Happy place” to appease Cody’s mind, not have him feel guilty, worry about and have nightmares about them. If he thinks they are in a happy place he will not have nightmares but have good dreams about them. It seems the only way the persons can get eaten and come back is if they are released from the cocoons before Cody wakes up (like what happened at the end). If they are eaten and he wakes up before they are released it seems the are gone forever. RIP the dad, he was a good dad. In the last few seconds he was able to create a butterfly while being awake so who knows. If it makes you happy he might learn how to release them one day 😉.

  4. Probably one of my favorite “scary” movies. There were definitely a few pop ups that made me jump, not gonna lie. I wish the dad would’ve came back but it’s cool that he was reunited with Sean instead. Overall 5 stars 🤷‍♀️

  5. I liked the movie very much. I have to admit it scared me a lot. I’m sad that the dad never came back. The ending was very nice and wasn’t confusing and weird like some other horror movies.

  6. Maybe like in the beginning the wife was saying that the husband wasn’t coping; she meant that he would be happier and at peace with their son. So it would make sense that she wouldn’t have him be brought back because he is finally where he can be happy.

    1. The only problem is, she was the one who wasn’t coping with Sean’s death. She was the one in group therapy and exploiting Cody to dream about Sean. What’s worse, her husband died because of it, knocking Cody out so Jane’s character couldn’t wake him. She had no remorse for his death.

  7. i guess the monster wasn’t very scary coz its a manifestation of an 8yr old’s dream……so quite obviously he won’t be making up a real scary demon at that age. no wonder that thing looked like a skeleton doll with stitch like stuff on the mouth

  8. Actually no one came back.. She was narrating a story to Cody and according to that story everyone came back.. She wanted him to believe that it’s a happy ending and that everything is happy and good so that he doesn’t feel sad any more and don’t dream bad things again.. As for the ending she suggested for her husband.. She cannot say he will come back or he is back coz that’s not the reality nor is it gonna be real..

  9. I really don’t get how a kid Sean’s age manages to drown in a bathtub… especially when he seemed to be struggling to get out, i.e. didn’t fall asleep or black out for some reason, which is why the dad installed safety railings when they decided to adopt Cody. I wish they had explained that, because it just bugs the hell out of me!! Otherwise, pretty decent movie.


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