Friday, November 4, 2022

The Minute You Wake Up Dead: Movie Review

A potentially interesting thriller that takes silly turns instead.
Russ (Cole Hauser) has returned to his small hometown. A stockbroker who made it big in the city has started a finance practice in town. His recent tip however went south and lost a lot of money for a lot of people, including himself. And then he starts receiving a mysterious anonymous phone call with the simple question, “Where will you be the minute you wake up dead?”. And then his girlfriend’s father is shot dead.   2022

Directed by: Michael Mailer

Screenplay by: Timothy Holland, Michael Mailer

Starring: Jaime Alexander, Cole Hauser,
Morgan Freeman, Darren Mann

At this point, it’s a good premise. Multiple possible directions that the story and investigation can take including Russ’s association or even guilt. Instead, the movie told us who the killer is and why they did it and how everyone else is involved in the very next scene. The filmmakers took the good premise and then deflated it immediately. For a movie with its fair share of TV-movie-of-the-week level dialogue, destroying its intriguing premise is not an auspicious start.

We’re then introduced to the many low-level criminals inhabiting the town and a lot of the characters randomly decide to try on being a murderer to see how it fits. The one murder turns into many murders as people try to get a cut of the pie, but more murders doesn’t make things more interesting. It’s not an unsatisfying movie but the crimes do get a bit silly after awhile, and it’s not actually supposed to be a comedy.

Morgan Freeman lends the film some credence and integrity as the town’s Sheriff, who solves the first murder awfully quickly, but then again these aren’t the smartest criminals around. Cole Hauser is also really good in his role, an example of an actor who just fits his character. I hope all of the actors really enjoyed their death scenes since there is an abundance of them.

A religious theme about greed and sin bookends the film. It’s supposed to help explain how everything gets resolved so tidily, but it really just devalues the writing. There’s an old filmmaking rule that says “show, don’t tell”, a rule that these filmmakers completely ignore. The Minute You Wake Up Dead could be a more interesting movie if the audience could have been allowed to discover some of the turns rather than just being told everything.