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Philip Michael Thomas
A suburban family is held hostage and terrorized by three intruders while their sixteen year-old daughter first hides, then exacts her own brand of terror on the assailants. Written by
Christopher Landry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For a movie that plunges into its thin story without introducing any characters, motives, or the scene, If I Die actually manages to create an air of dread from the start, but unfortunately tapers off to a conventional ending.
If I Die Before I Wake has a simple shoestring plot - three redneck burglars break into a suburban home and hold the family hostage, torturing them. In fact, they are tortured for the first third of the movie (the runtime is 72 minutes), and its quite a disturbing bevy of screams and pleading from the family that is successful in building a nightmarish tension.
From then on, we follow daughter Stephanie Jones as she maneuvers (sometimes incredulously) past and hides from their captors. While the script consists of routine dialogue and sometimes monotonous reworkings of Jones eluding her tormentors, it often surprises with the unexpected deaths of some major characters and one chillingly scripted scene in which one of the burglars peruses around with the little girl, mimicking the actions of her father from the home videos they are watching in the living room.
Director Katkin partially succeeds in delivering a cheap but genuinely creepy horror film in the first half by wallowing in torture and masochism, he missteps from then on last and falls prey to script conventions. Still, If I Die Before I Wake is worth a look if only for the unflinching terror inflicted on the innocent suburban family.
6 out of 10
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