This "Wake" had trouble keeping me awake. All right, that's a bad play on
words but the script made me write it. This is a sour piece of work without
a stitch of humor, taking itself too seriously, and lacking in the
fundamentals of dramatization.
Since the first time writer and director here, Henry Leroy Finch, is Martin
Landau's son-in-law, he had the good sense to create a role for the
distinguished actor, though the sense of Landau's willingness to lend the
imprimatur of his talents to such limited material may be argued. The role
is a much too obvious shoehorn job, taking one of the main characters and
turning Landau into a dreamy, elder version of him. So, to start out,
there's vintage Sebastian hunting and pecking at an old typewriter in the
confines of his study, writing the story we're about to see as he narrates an
Lapsing into his younger self (Dihlon McManne), Sebastian is caring for his
dying mother in an aging, ill-tended frame house in Maine. Inexpressively,
he opens the lock on a trunk in one of the rooms of the house, presumably the
living room. It has the effects of his dead father and, presumably, his and
his brothers' inheritance when mom passes away, an event that not only seems
imminent, but is on his mind to accellerate with an act of "mercy."
Sebastion smiles at the pictures in the trunk, then finds a pile of money in
$100 denominations. When brother Kyle (Gale Harold) shows up, he hurriedly
closes the trunk and meets him in another room. Kyle is in his
mechanics uniform and, apparently, has been in a mental institution and now
takes three color-coded pills a day to quell the raging beasts within.
The troublemaker of the clan, ex-convict Raymond (Blake Gibbons) arrives on
his motorcycle and immediately starts shaking things up among the brothers.
The discussion, when it's not on a bit of bullying, comes around to the
inheritance and mom's condition.
Accusations fly until the fourth (and final) brother Jack (John Winthrop
Philbrick) shows up with a couple of floozies, girls he picked up on the way
and which he is more than willing to share and to boast about. Dusty (Rainer
Judd) and April (Dusty Paik) are a type that makes them more than willing to
have a party.
Not everyone is equally thrilled with these developments, and mom is still in
bed upstairs when Sebastion goes up with a needle and some "medicine," but
the party goes on and develops into competitive recriminations. No one seems
familial in this house and the fighting that fills the night is devoid of
humor or revealing detail. It's a scream fest that seems to be Finch's
idea of dramatic conflict but the unrelieved banality of storyline and
emptiness of character renders the presumptive literary aspirations dead on
arrival. If the vacuous platitudes don't get you, you'll find the atmosphere
in the house choking.
If I may be permitted a repetition, this "Wake" is for the enterprise's
theatrical potentials where prospects of finding a paying audience are
~~ Jules Brenner