Cinema Signal:

The Human Cloning Debate
by Glenn McGee

. "Wake"

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 introduction.

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 mournful.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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