Per Matt
Years ago, I had a sleep disorder. I’ve always been a light sleeper, but at one point insomnia was a regular part of my life. That was definitely a difficult time for me, but with some lifestyle changes, I managed to get back on track to a somewhat decent sleep cycle. In a world where where there’s no electronics, no power, no credit cards and no phones due to a mysterious global event, the next domino to fall is humanity’s ability to sleep — this actually sounds like a Utopia for me (minus the lack of shut-eye). Welcome to the world of Awake, which recently premiered on Netflix.

As the story begins, the dark past of Jill (played by Gina Rodriguez) has resurfaced. The former soldier is desperately trying to make ends meet, while providing for her family. And then, out of nowhere, “the incident” occurs. Without warning, the family car malfunctions, breaking down in the middle of the road. The resulting pileup is a great introduction, instantly grabbing your attention as Jill’s family must escape their car, which is sinking in a nearby lake.

But what caused it all? Was it terrorists? What about the Chinese? Is the country at war? Could it have been an EMP? Nobody knows, really. Later that night, no one can sleep, so everyone’s restless. Some are looting and the film actually feels like an alternate origin story for The Purge for only a few fleeting moments. With this warning, the drama begins:

By staying awake for 48 hours, there’s a loss of critical thinking. After 96 hours, there’s hallucinations and motor failure. Any longer than that leads to paralysis until the heart shuts off. But symptoms are creeping in two to three times quicker, which means total chaos is right around the corner.

“Maybe we are meant to be awake… ’cause you need to be woke to see how the world really is.”

In spite of all these incidents, Jill’s daughter (played by Ariana Greenlatt) can sleep. Some see her as a miracle they need in their lives. The military hopes to study her as a cure. And there are others who simply want to harm her. The survival of the entire human race may just depend on one little girl. No pressure or anything. Will Jill’s broken family finally bond and survive this disaster together? You’ll have to watch the movie in order to find out!

I really liked the overall concept for this storyline, even if much of it never really gets fleshed out. Sleep deprivation is torture, I get it. But somehow, this extinction event really has no grand purpose other than wiping people out. Unfortunately, it’s just a McGuffin. And then there’s the naked people standing in the street, staring into the sky. This short scene is so bizarre, but in this world, it seems to make sense. Story-wise, there’s so many great individual plot devices, but they just don’t seem to come together by the movie’s conclusion. They’re a bit disjointed.

As far as the acting goes, Shamier Anderson has more to do here than in his previous Netflix outing, Stowaway. It’s yet another supporting role. I’m looking forward to seeing him in a stronger capacity for a future movie, whether it’s streaming or not.

A future Neo Luddist world seems like a dream, but one without sleep is nothing but a nightmare. Awake attempts to combine these concepts in a scenario that seems all too familiar to insomniacs everywhere.