Wake

Writer-director Henry LeRoy Finch's ripely overwrought exercise in Southern Gothic psychodrama, which happens to unfold in a picturesquely decaying house in Maine, pits four seriously damaged brothers against each other as their terminally ill mother sleeps restlessly in an upstairs bedroom. Adrift in the abandoned house where he grew up, elderly Sebastian...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Writer-director Henry LeRoy Finch's ripely overwrought exercise in Southern Gothic psychodrama, which happens to unfold in a picturesquely decaying house in Maine, pits four seriously damaged brothers against each other as their terminally ill mother sleeps restlessly in an upstairs bedroom. Adrift in the abandoned house where he grew up, elderly Sebastian Riven (Martin Landau, whose daughter is married to the writer-director and produced the film) remembers the ghosts of his childhood and the emotionally fraught night he and his three brothers confronted them. Back then, aspiring writer Sebastian (Dihlon McManne) was the good son who stayed at home to care for Mama (Muriel Kenderdine), who's been dying by inches for years. After much persuasion, his fragile, recently-sober brother Kyle (Gale Harold, the American version of TV's Queer as Folk's studly sex-addict in residence), stunted by childhood trauma and barely held together by psychotropic meds, has finally agreed to supply the drugs that will end her suffering. But the very night Kyle delivers them to Sebastian, who's been working up the nerve to actually do the deed, their remaining siblings, volatile jailbird Ray (Gibbons) and newly unemployed security guard Jack (John Winthrop Philbrick), pay an unannounced visit. Armed, inebriated, accompanied by a pair of busty, chemically altered barflies (Dusty Paik, Rainer Judd) and convinced there's money hidden somewhere in the house that Kyle and Sebastian intend to keep for themselves — it goes without saying that Mama never trusted banks and doesn't have a will — Ray and Jack ignite a long night of testosterone-fueled emotional fireworks and all-around bad behavior. Guns, tears, puking, shadowy B&W flashbacks and drunken temper tantrums all factor into the ensuing mess of mind games; you either get with the sordid emotional wallowing or you don't. If you're already asking, "Why don't these alcoholic losers just stop picking at their mental scabs and grow up?" this is not the movie for you. Its assets include uniformly strong performances; Gibbons and Harold revel in the showy roles, and get strong support from McManne and Philbrick. Even Paik and Judd invest their one-note roles with surprising vividness. Shooting on digital video, cinematographer Patrick Kelly delivers a vibrantly smeary look that evokes alternately sordid and surreally beautiful flashes of poisonously intoxicated memory.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Writer-director Henry LeRoy Finch's ripely overwrought exercise in Southern Gothic psychodrama, which happens to unfold in a picturesquely decaying house in Maine, pits four seriously damaged brothers against each other as their terminally ill mother sleep… (more)

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