Everyone has a different definition of a scary movie. Mine doesnt involve monsters or ghostly apparitions. Instead, its reality-based terror, which is why I found this admittedly mediocre psychological thriller so gripping.
In Awake, a patients failed anesthesia leaves him fully conscious but physically paralyzed during surgery. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists and American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, of the 21 million patients who receive general anesthesia, an estimated 20,000 – 40,000 wake up during surgery. Half of them can hear whats happening and nearly 30% experience pain but theyre unable to communicate because theyve been temporarily paralyzed.
Like his father, Clayton Beresford Jr. (Hayden Christensen) is a Wall Street whiz. Problem is: he has a defective heart. Perhaps thats why he still lives at home with his widowed mother, Lilith (Lena Olin), a domineering socialite. Secretly engaged to her assistant, Samantha (Jessica Alba), Clay has been reluctant to break the news to his mother until, one night, Sam forces the issue and they elope.
Clays best man is Jack Harper (Terrence Howard), a cardiac specialist he befriended while on the waiting list for a transplant and, just after the wedding, a donor heart becomes available. Although his mother has lined up a pre-eminent cardiovascular surgeon (Arliss Howard), Clay insists on having Jack do the surgery.
Bad idea since Jack has several malpractice lawsuits pending. As the graphically detailed surgery commences, Clay realizes hes still aware but paralyzed and that things arent really what they seem. Secrecy, deception and betrayal abound.
While writer/director Joby Harold suffers credibility problems, he nevertheless builds ominous suspense, so on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Awake is a horrifying 6 and quite unsuitable for the squeamish or those about to undergo anesthesia for surgery.