Starring Bryan Brewer, Michael Aaron Milligan, Allie Rivera, Amanda Musso and Darla Delgado
Directed by Bryan Brewer
Horror fans are intimately familiar with lowered standards when it comes to independent cinema. Horror is still the proverbial “red-headed stepchild” of the film industry and financing can be hard to come by. So if an independent feature doesn’t have the best acting, effects or set design it’s often forgiven if the movie is creative enough or shows enough promise. Basket Case is a mess for many reasons but the sheer, evident genius of Frank Henenlotter’s debut film allows for many to love it anyway. It doesn’t matter that you can see the seams of the puppet or that the stop motion is laughable, you can overlook these shortcomings and still enjoy it. When it comes to The Wake, however, it’s doubtful anyone could lower their standards enough.
The Wake tells the story of five friends who are attending the funeral of a boy they accidentally killed in a car accident. They are soon set upon by a killer intent on toying with them and ultimately picking them off one by one. Why are they being targeted? Who is the killer? This mystery and its answers are almost sure to make you yawn.
The biggest problem with The Wake is director Bryan Brewer’s abysmal directing. The choices he makes in this movie are downright baffling. He seems inept at nearly every aspect of the filmmaking process. He can’t block shots. Most of the film is improperly lit. There is no discernable shot composition with every scene playing out in the most basic way possible with no regard for artistic expression. The editing is perfunctory and dynamism was clearly not a priority making the paint by numbers plot all the more boring for it. Credit where credit is due, however, the film is in focus meaning every terrible second of it can be seen with absolute clarity.
The acting is awful as well. Bryan Brewer plays the lead, Tyler, with skill nearly matching that of his direction. The rest of the cast are so bad that it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the casting director waited outside a softcore porn casting session and rounded up the rejects. Nearly every line spoken is tonally wrong. You can’t sympathize or emotionally connect with the cast because they all sound like aliens pretending to be human. The only professional on hand appears to be Michael Aaron Milligan as Ben. He was both funny and personable and the only thing about this movie that was enjoyable. While certainly better than his ridiculous castmates his performance was still uneven but this is probably due to the poor direction rather than any deficiencies on his part.
The rest of the production falls just as short as everything else. The score is all over the place and is, quite frankly, annoying. It sometimes even drowns out the dialogue. The plot, if that’s what you want to call it, relies heavily on ridiculous twists that come from nowhere and the ending will leave you rolling your eyes at how lame it is. The special effects rise no further than the level of a student film with blood that looks suspiciously like watered down ketchup. The foley work was okay though, so props to whoever was responsible for that.
In conclusion you should stay as far away from this one as possible. Frankly it’s insulting that they think they can charge people to watch this drek. You might say to yourself “Surely this one might be fun to just laugh at. Right?” No. In what might be the biggest crime of this production “director” Bryan Brewer didn’t even do as good a job as Tommy Wiseau in making a film that is, at least, entertainingly bad. It’s just dull, uninteresting and lazy. Avoid it at all costs.