Review: ‘Wake’

"Don't lie to your significant other" is the not-so-urgent lesson of "Wake."

“Don’t lie to your significant other” is the not-so-urgent lesson of “Wake.” A creaky exercise in couple’s therapy dressed up as a psychological thriller, this writing-directing debut by “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” producer Chad Feehan generates some creepy atmosphere with its tale of surreal intrigue at a desert motel. But it soon becomes clear the goings-on have been engineered to convict the protagonist of his dark fratboy past — which, along with an easily foreseeable twist, drains much of the tension from an already laborious scenario. Beyond fests, “Wake” looks unlikely to find a vacancy in the marketplace.

While driving with g.f. Adrienne (Jamie-Lynn Sigler, “The Sopranos,” “Entourage”) from Texas to Los Angeles, Paul (Ed Norton lookalike Josh Stewart) nearly wrecks their car. Exhausted, the two check into a motel, only to have increasingly awkward run-ins with the motel clerk (Chris Browning), his wife (Angela Featherstone) and a well-dressed weirdo (Afemo Omilami), ominously referred to in the credits as “the Man,” who insistently calls forth Paul’s guilty secret. Flashback-heavy structure only spotlights the story’s quasi-supernatural lumberings, though the thesps (especially Sigler) show commitment. Tech credits are fine.

Wake

Production

A Fort presentation. Produced by Chad Feehan, Amanda Micallef, Lea-Beth Shapiro. Executive producer, Luke Vitale. Co-producers, Kinsey Packand, Joe Reegan, R.B. Ripley, Christy Strahan, Rebecca Shapiro, Thomas L. Young, Yvette Urbina. Directed, written by Chad Feehan.

Crew

Camera (color), Jason Blount; editor, Michael Griffin; music supervisor, Henry Self; production designer, Manuel Perez Pena; art director, Jagyung (J.J.) Eum; set decorator, Xavier Wilson; costume designer, Emily Batson. Reviewed at Raleigh Studios, Los Angeles, March 5, 2010. (In SXSW Film Festival -- Lone Star States.) Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Josh Stewart, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Chris Browning, Angela Featherstone, Afemo Omilami.
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