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A Nightmare Wakes: Review


Almost every horror and literature fan has heard about the story of the night Mary Shelley (Alix Wilton Regan), Percy Shelley (Giullian Yao Gioiello) and Claire Claremont (Claire Glassford) were set a task by Lord Byron (Phillippe Bowgen) to write a horror story over the course of a night. Of course, that night inspiration struck like a bolt of lightning and the story of Frankenstein came alive.

However, nobody really knows what went on in Mary Shelley’s mind when she conceived the idea, so A Nightmare Wakes attempts to marry the seed of that story with Shelley’s own life. Ambitiously, A Nightmare Wakes goes into Shelley’s personal life, as it mirrors aspects of The Modern Prometheus with Shelley’s own life when she was due to give birth.

Written and directed by Nora Unkel in her directorial debut, A Nightmare Wakes is an impressive film in terms of its story, ambition and its gorgeous cinematography. However, seeing that the film is on Shudder it may lead its audience to think that it’s a pure period drama turned horror.

Unfortunately, fans of supernatural horror may be disappointed, as may fans of Shelley and her work because A Nightmare Wakes tries to be both at once and ends up not feeling satisfying enough to either audience.

Although it may frustrate horror fans looking for more of a scare and equally frustrate fans of Shelley looking to know more about her life, the story is original and well told. There are some historical inaccuracies in Unkels’ script though, which may move the story along, but for those who know then it may be a stretch too far for artistic license.

Also, Mary Shelley herself may not be the protagonist that audiences may have been expecting because although the things she experiences are certainly arduous, her reactions to them are not as strong willed. However, Bowgen as Lord Byron certainly lives up to the personality and the legend with his brash personality and lively performance.

A Nightmare Wakes is a great experiment in filmmaking, but one that perhaps got out of control when it was finally born.  

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