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[Glasgow FrightFest]: Wake Up

Home store invasion horror Wake Up from directorial team ‘Roadkill Superstars’, made up of filmmakers François Dimard and Anouk and Yoan-Karl Whissell, is a violent cat and mouse game set inside a home improvement store closed down for the night.

Six Gen Z environmental activists, Ethan (Benny O. Arthur), Yasmin (Jacqueline Moré), Grace (Alessia Yoko Fontana), Tyler (Kyle Scudder), Emily (Charlotte Stoiber) and fresh faced recruit Karim (Tom Gould), break into home improvement store House Idea (which strongly resembles a certain Swedish furniture company), and begin to deface the company’s property in protest of the corporation’s nefarious usage of wood sourced from rainforests. The group spray paint graffiti, use meat and blood to destroy the showrooms and enjoy a paint gun battle, recording their endeavours in the hope of going viral, all the while completely oblivious to the danger that awaits. 

Unknown to the group is the existence of two security guards charged with the night shift after being at the centre of a customer altercation. Brothers Jack (Aidan O’Hare) and Kevin (Turlough Convery) are on their last warning as the threat of being fired looms over them. As Jack drinks to pass the time, Kevin crafts a rudimentary cross-bow to fulfil his ‘primitive hunting’ interests.  When the two workers eventually encounter the group, it sets into motion a series of bloody events which will lead Kevin to finally being able to act out his wildest survivalist fantasy.  What ensues is an ultra violent cat and mouse game of wits that combines both home invasion teen-horror like Better Watch Out (2016) with Grady Hendrix’s 2014 novel Horrorstör

Unlike most home invasion horror films, Wake Up doesn't cause audiences to align themselves with either prey or hunter. Both the gang of youth activists and extremist Kevin are insufferable and unlikeable. The actions and arrogant attitudes of the virality obsessed “woke” gen z-ers provide an interesting examination of misplaced activism. The victims of their destruction of the property is not the large corporations raking in millions through the exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of habitats, but in fact the working class, the workers who have to clean up after them and continue on the capitalist working day as if nothing happened in order to continue raking in the profits for the CEOs, their actions barely a blip on the radar of the faceless and absent higher ups. In a similar vein, Kevin, who represents the overworked and underpaid working class has misplaced his anger towards the younger generation, instead of the corporation who views him as a replaceable worker ant. Wake Up is a smart and witty portrayal of how the ruling classes in society depend on the fighting between lower social classes and the average person in order to continue getting away with their damaging practices, whether that be in association with environmentalism, distribution of wealth, war etc. 

The directors of Wake Up have utilised the layout of a home store perfectly, with the many showrooms creating a disorientating maze-like set up, paired with sequences such as a black-light neon colour explosion, they have constructed a set of pure warfare. Throughout the scenes of gruesome brutality, is interjected a level of wit, a particular favourite scene worthy of note being Kevin embodying an even more maniacal John Kramer(Saw franchise 2004-2022) by setting a time constrained trap which entails forcing the kids to put together a piece of flat pack furniture. 

Whilst Wake Up suffers at times from pacing issues, and doesn’t deliver anything new in the teen-slasher genre particularly with its kill set pieces, its inventive use of setting and deeper message of the evils of large corporations is commendable. Wake Up is an easily digestible socially conscious thrill ride.

4 out of 5


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