Imagine you are narcoleptic. Now imagine your sister is a sensual goth lady with a thing for death photography, your parents are strangely absent, you can’t tell whether you’re awake or dreaming, and your world was imagined by David Lynch. Now…imagine you have the hots for your sister. That’s Wakey Wakey, a bizarre yet alluring Australian film by Adrian Goodman. It’s like if Eraserhead had a weird crossover with Flowers in the Attic while going through a goth phase. Yes, it’s that good.
The thing that really makes Wakey Wakey work for me is the complete unreliability of the main character. We’re seeing the world through her eyes, but she’s so affected by her narcolepsy that she wears a helmet at all times to keep from hitting her head if she passes out, which she does repeatedly, sometimes in the worst situations. In one scene, she goes face first into her spaghetti. In another, she falls off a motorcycle and spends half of the film with road rash as a result. In some scenes she has a dog, while in another she’s told she’s never had one. Since the only person she has a connection to is her sister, well, things start getting weird as she obviously starts to develop feelings for her…or is she really? Could those scenes be just a part of a dream?
It is this developing sexuality that brings the film into erotic territory, though the lead’s narcolepsy kicks in at all the wrong times, leaving the audience to occasionally wonder if what they were about to witness was simply misunderstood or completely hallucinated. The sister definitely has some secrets, and judging from the artwork, she really is into death a bit too much, leading to the main character to eventually suspect her sister of committing a terrible crime…but this could all just be in her head, and even when she escapes, she might not really be able to escape. The final image is of her passing out in a field, after all. What’s to say she won’t wake up back in bed, with previous events having all been a dream?
Wakey Wakey is a film where nothing can be trusted, even when we think it can be, because we are under the influence of another’s sickness. Ultimately, none of it may be real at all. Halfway through, I wondered if the sister was real. I’m still not entirely sure which scenes were dreams. Maybe all, or maybe none, and the sister is playing some very sick games. For that, I love this movie. It’s hard to tear my attention away from a well done nightmare, and this is definitely well done. Of course, that also means it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.