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The story focuses on a man who suffers "anesthetic awareness" and finds himself awake and aware, but paralyzed, during heart surgery. His mother must wrestle with her own demons as a turn of events unfolds around them, while trying to unfold the story hidden behind her son's young wife.



4,655 ( 126)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Young Clay (as Stephen Hinkle)
Financial News Analyst
Brian the Orderly
Officer Doherty
Joseph Costa ...
Dr. Elbogen


While undergoing open heart surgery, a man's failed anesthetic leaves him completely alert, but paralyzed and unable to tell his doctors Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


When they planned her husband's murder they never thought he'd be the one. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, an intense disturbing situation, and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

30 November 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bajo anestesia  »

Box Office


$8,600,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,856,872 (USA) (30 November 2007)


$14,373,825 (USA) (29 February 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The tagline is a gross misrepresentation of statistics. The actual estimate of awareness during anesthesia is 1:14000 for high risk patients to as low as 1:42000. See more »


In the flashback where Clay is initially rushed to the ER, Dr. Harper says 'We have a massive heart attack, possible MI'. MI is an abbreviation for myocardial infarction which is commonly known as a heart attack. See more »


Sam Lockwood: But hey you know what? As soon as you get out of here, we're gonna start from scratch. Get a little house on the beach, do it right, ya know? Chase seagulls, what do you say? As soon as you get out, I'll be right here.
Clay Beresford: I think my new heart will love you as much as my old one.
See more »


Berceuse from Jeux D'Enfants
by Georges Bizet
Performed by The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Courtesy of Naxos
By Arrangement with Source/Q
See more »

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User Reviews

Preposterous Entertainment
25 March 2008 | by See all my reviews

Awake, the new thriller by first-time director Joby Harold, takes off from a grisly real-life phenomenon called "anesthetic awareness." This is when patients are unaccountably left fully conscious—and physically paralyzed—during surgery, and Harold (who also wrote the script) has spun a preposterously entertaining yarn from this grisly germ of an idea, and manages to hold us in a vice-like grip for pretty much the entire film. How often can you say of a Hollywood thriller that you don't have a clue what's going to happen next? Awake is brazenly indifferent to plausibility, but you can't help but admire the film's audacity. Along with fantastic plot twists, Harold throws Hitchcockian flourishes and elements of Greek tragedy into the mix like a crazed chef. In lesser hands, Awake would have been a tawdry melodrama, but Harold believes in his material so fervently (in a way a more seasoned professional never could) that the film works on several levels at once. Ingenious as it is, it's not mechanical—it has soul.

Harold brings such energy and focus to the scenes that he transcends the subject matter and gives it an almost surreal intensity, and the performances are strong enough to keep the film's nuttiness from capsizing it. Jessica Alba is suitably luscious and beguiling (her role gives new meaning to the term "heartbreaker"), and Lena Olin and Terence Howard are both in fine form. As the unfortunate victim of anesthetic awareness, Hayden Christensen comes into his own as a performer (having mercifully managed to escape the Mark Hammil curse: that of being horribly miscast by George Lucas). Christensen has an unusually expressive face (the camera takes to him), and he can convey emotion without ever appearing to do much—fortunately, because the film hinges around his internal struggle, and on our feelings of empathy for him.

Awake is a white-knuckle movie experience if ever there was one (it even carries a viewer warning), with some of the most sheerly visceral scenes of horror ever committed to celluloid. Watching someone undergoing open-heart surgery while fully conscious (and able to feel the incision) is enough to frazzle the nerves of the most hardened horror veterans, and this film is certainly not for the squeamish. Too bad the loopy plot (and the melodramatic character revelations, which are really just tired genre conventions) finally stretches our credibility to breaking point. As a result, Awake lacks a strong climax, and as a roller-coaster ride it doesn't have enough emotional depth to be fully satisfying (its shallowness is at odds with its rather contrived attempts at pathos). But for most of its length it's close to a pop classic, and probably the best metaphysical thriller since The Sixth Sense (a film I didn't much care for). In fact, Harold better watch out or he may wind up as the next M. Night Shyamalan. Awake has so many twists it makes you dizzy.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
Wtf y Hayden?????? bnisha04
Am I the only one who thought that this film was really good? cheesemyster
Why did he need to be 'Awake'? GusM50
What I learned from this movie + Jumper.... Sunset_Kiddo
Did the writers actually bother to research heart surgery? erinjanelee
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