Haunted on all fronts, Dylan (Nick Stahl), a 28-year-old funeral director, is starting to see dead people twitch in their coffins, while at night his dreams are plagued by memories of Natalie (Amy Smart), the high-school sweetheart he abandoned right after his parents died in a car accident that may have really been a murder. As directed by Omar Naim, Dead Awake bears the outward trappings of a horror movie—John Hunter’s score is beautifully menacing—but gradually, the overly complicated screenplay takes a turn toward the touchy-feely, as if this were a leftover TV script for Touched by an Angel. The angel, in this case, may be Dylan himself, who saves the life of a beautiful, death-obsessed crackhead named Charlie (Rose McGowan) and might possibly have been dead all along. Although Dylan, Charlie, and Natalie do indeed encounter the unknown by film’s end, the true miracle here is that the filmmakers were able to convince three experienced and gifted young actors to commit themselves to material better suited to credit-hungry newcomers.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 1, 2010