REVIEW: The Wake
– MovieCritic NextDoor
There are few things worse than having to attend a child’s memorial service. One of those few things is having to attend a child’s memorial service knowing that you’re the reason said child is dead, as in The Wake. Tyler (Bryan Brewer) drove drunk one night and his car struck and killed young Zach Stevens (Jakob Ulrich). Why an 11-year-old was alone on the streets of southern California after dark is an issue that the movie doesn’t get into.
Tyler’s girlfriend Casey (Allie Rivera) was also in the car, trying to be a voice of reason that Tyler sadly ignored. Now she’s at the wake to give him moral support, though he doesn’t seem to need any. This is the least depressing wake in the history of wakes, actually. If it wasn’t for all the black clothing it would look exactly like a housewarming party, complete with champagne. Even Zach’s mother Nadine (Darla Delgado) seems remarkably calm and collected considering her son has been dead only a few days.
Also along for unneeded moral support are Ben (Michael Aaron Milligan), Ginger (Kristen Dalton) and Ashley (Amanda Musso), though admittedly Ben seems more interested in the food and alcohol. But things take a strange turn when Casey passes out and wakes to find herself tied (very poorly) to a chair in the Stevens house, her friends nowhere to be seen. As the group slowly reunites, they also discover that they aren’t alone in the house. There’s a masked, knife-wielding maniac lurking in the shadows — literally, since the power has been cut.
Predictably, the death toll rises, with the killer seemingly able to ignore locked doors. Nadine, also found tied up with almost entirely useless knots, seems as confused as any of her guests, but is there something she isn’t telling, possibly involving her soon to be ex-husband? Or is there something even more sinister at work?
Sadly, the most sinister things about this movie are the plot holes and the remarkable carelessness of the cast. They scold each other about the stupidity of splitting up the group, then do it anyway. They fail to investigate the most obvious clues. No one goes looking for weapons, not even the obligatory kitchen knife. (Apparently the only time knives count as weapons is when it’s a knife taken from the bad guy.) Don’t even get me started on the saga of Tyler’s car keys.
In short it’s a pretty standard slasher flick that doesn’t pretend to be anything more, though it does have one good, if improbable, twist towards the end. Improbable is perhaps the best way to sum up the entire movie, actually, from the reason Tyler isn’t in jail to the dubious finale. If you don’t mind working harder than usual to suspend your disbelief, it’s an entertaining hour and a half, but for the rest of us, the best part might be the outtakes during the credits.