Most of us think of sleep as a natural reaction to bodily functions, but think of a world devoid of sleep. Mark Raso sets his survival movie ‘Awake’ in a post-apocalyptic dystopia where a cosmic event has robbed most of the global populace of their sleep. Electronic gadgets are as good as rocks, as they don’t work anymore. People have lost their minds, and the world has become a mare’s nest. The narrative unfolds through the eyes of Jill, an army veteran with a troubled life, and her kids, Noah and Matilda. When Jill finds out about Matilda’s special ability, she must choose whether she would protect her or give her up for the greater good of humanity.
The premise sounds like a fresh and realistic take on the zombie survival genre (and when you see a bunch of people standing naked in the middle of the road as if in a daze, you would know where I’m coming from), only, it’s not that convincing. The final moments give us some respite, and Matilda’s sharp thinking comes to the rescue. Some questions may as well bug you, as they are bugging us, and if you are looking for answers, let us dissect the ending. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Awake Plot Synopsis
Jill is a sleep-deprived security guard and an army veteran troubled by her military past. Her children, Noah and Matilda, live with their grandmother. Jill comes to pick her children up from her mother. On the road, an accident throws the car into a lake. Jill and Noah get out of the car and swim to the shore to find Matilda being tended after by police personnel. They rush to a hospital nearby, which seems to be a warzone with wounded bodies coming in one after another. All the doctors are busy, and Jill takes her kids back to their grandmother’s.
At night, none but Matilda can sleep, and Jill goes out in search of pills, ending up at her workplace. The sun is up by then, and we see military cars flocking in. Jill is held at gunpoint by an army man, but she is rescued by her old associate Dr. Murphy. Murphy’s assistant, Brian, fills Jill on the situation – the power cut is still salvageable by changing wires and fuses, but without sleep, most of the global populace would eventually have to succumb to death.
Jill comes back to her mother’s place to know that she has taken Matilda to the church. By the time Jill reaches the church, people are suggesting that Matilda should be sacrificed as she apparently has the cure for their sleep deprivation. Brian tries to convince the churchgoers to hand Matilda over to him, but a delirious sheriff shoots him dead. A nervous Noah retrieves Brian’s belongings, and the family flees to the woods. Jill is unwilling to take Matilda to the “hub,” as urged by Brian, but Noah is sure that Matilda can help them find the cure.
Jill steals a car from a garage, and the family hits the road. After bypassing some bizarre scenes, they arrive at a library in search of a map. The car is stolen, as criminals run free in the streets. A shootout between Jill and a criminal is about to ensue, but the stealer of the car, Dodge, comes around. After a day’s drive and some frightening incidents on the road, they reach the hub. But as hallucinating military personnel starts firing their guns, all hell breaks loose.
Awake Ending: Is Jill Dead or Alive?
After the discovery of Noah’s cure, Matilda finds a pattern. Following her hunch, the siblings take their mother to a pool and drown her. To their dismay, they push her into the water until her heart stops beating. Following the ordeal, Noah and Matilda rescue their mother from the pool. Jill is seemingly dead, and she does not respond to Matilda’s CPR techniques. But as the screen is consumed by darkness, we hear Jill gasping for air, as if waking up from a bad dream.
Following the suggestion made by the film, Jill is alive and cured of her insomnia. That means Matilda is right about her theory, and more people can be saved following her formula. This strand of thought veers the audience to a possible sequel, which may explore the aftermath of the discovery. This brings us to the next question.
Was Noah Sleeping?
The ending moments are potentially puzzling and mind-boggling. In the night, sleep-deprived hallucinations make the army people go mad. They start firing at anyone and everyone. The elderly woman who could sleep is dead. And when Murphy is ready to give up Matilda for sinister experimentation, a dazed and confused Jill reaches the scene. In the nick of time, the doctor kills Murphy with an injection. When Jill takes Matilda out of the medical room, the army men are still killing off each other. When Matilda comes out in the lobby, she sees a dazed Noah messing with the electric wiring. Before Jill can stop Noah, he receives an electric shock and falls unconscious.
Matilda rushes back to the medical room to get the defibrillator, while Jill desperately tries to wake her son up. Matilda helps Jill to adjust the machine. Jill gives Noah a shock, but she does not clear the charge, and the shockwave throws them to the ground. After a nightmarish night, the morning sees most of the army personnel lying dead in and around the facility. Matilda and Jill wake up, but Noah does not. We see his heart breathing, and it is evident that he is alive. But Jill is hysterical and occupied with the thought that her son is dead. But Noah wakes up shortly after, and it appears that he was dreaming. That means Noah can now sleep too.
What is the Cure?
The film begins with the onset of a catastrophic event, which renders most of the global populace as insomniac. In a state of confusion, people break into medical drug stores for sleeping pills, create secret cults, and kill for fun. In short, a state of chaos jeopardizes the world’s sanity. Following Dr. Murphy, the event is caused by a solar flare that has rewired the neural networks of the people. Now everyone wants a piece of Matilda, the special girl who can sleep. That is because people think that somehow Matilda has the cure for their sleep-deprived misery, and the ending of the film reinstates their belief.
Matilda finds the cure not by sacrificing herself but by the application of her intelligent and innovative mind. In the morning following the hellish night at the hub, Jill and Matilda find Noah sleeping like an angel. After Noah wakes up, Matilda explains to him that his heart stopped beating the previous night. Similarly, Matilda remembers the car accident where she thought she died for a moment. Connecting the dots, Matilda finds out that only a near-death experience can reinstate people back to normality. Following her suggestion, Matilda and Noah take Jill to a nearby lake and drowns her to initiate a near-death experience. As the audience knows that Jill is alive, they also know that Matilda’s way actually works.
Read More: Where Was Awake Filmed?