What would happen to us, the humankind, if we suddenly lost our ability to sleep? With that simple question, director Mark Raso (Kodachrome, Copenhagen) establish Awake, the most recent Netflix bet on apocalyptical thrillers on the vibe of Bird Box or The Silence.
Now, if in the midst of the chaos, the military, family conflicts, and sleep disorders, you have been left with some question, doubt or concern about the film, do not worry, because right now and without further ado we will jump to the Analysis and Explanation of… Awake (2021, so you don’t confuse this movie with the zillion other movies than share the same title).
1 ^ Does Awake (2021) have post-credits scenes?
Given the film’s somewhat ambiguous ending, maybe we might think the director was careful to include an explanatory scene after the credits, right? Well the truth is no. Awake: Disomnia has no post-credits scenes, so if you want to fully understand the film you need to gather all the clues we can find throughout its 96-minute run. And of course, keep reading this article.
2 ^ Why can’t people sleep in Awake?
The first seconds of the film show us a close-up of a starry night sky, without any clouds, a shot that appears in several later scenes, such as when Jill (Gina Rodriguez – Jane, The Virgin) realizes that Noah (Lucius Hoyos) is still awake, and then again the night Dodge (Shamier Anderson) takes the family to the hub where Murphy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is working on a cure.
These shots are an indication that the cause of the insomnia plague is in outer space. Murphy even points out to Jill that there is a theory that it is solar radiation that created the disorder. Human beings are biochemical machines that run on fuel (oxygen) and that communicate all its parts through electricity and fluid movement. Electricity in humans is so essential that when the body loses the elements that transmit it, such as potassium, lethal pathologies can easily emerge.
Now, the fact that the radiation comes from space does not necessarily mean that it is accidental. For this I have two theories: the first, that what we saw in the film is the first phase of an alien invasion that used a weapon as simple and simple as an electromagnetic pulse that melted at the same time human technology and its ability to sleep. And the second, that it is a weapon, which was used to deprive the people in a specific region of the world of their ability to sleep. The question remains whether the effect is global, or simply limited to the United States. If there is a sequel to this movie, maybe we can have an answer or two about these issues.
3 ^ Why does Noah hate Jill?
To understand why Noah hates Jill so much, we must collect the clues of how that family was formed. According to Jill, she became pregnant with Noah, as a teenager, she and Noah’s father did marry, but because they were financially limited, they both enlisted in the military.
In her time in what appears to be serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, Jill worked with Murphy in interrogation of prisoners, while her husband died in service. These traumatic events generated post-traumatic stress (PTSD) in Jill, to the point that she could only sleep using pills. The problem is that she later became addicted to these pills, and most likely she was caught stealing these highly regulated medicines at work, so the judge ruled that Noah and Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt) should remain under the tutelage of Doris (Frances Fisher).
The reason Noah hates Jill, or at least doesn’t like her very much, is that he blames her for leaving them alone when they needed her most, just when they had lost their father.
4 ^ What happens to the human body if we cannot sleep?
According to the Everyday Health portal, the damage suffered by the human body when it is deprived of sleep is gradual:
24 hours without sleep: The body reaches a level similar to that of a 0.10 alcohol intoxication. Judgment is clouded, there are memory issues, impaired decision-making ability, and loss of coordination between sight and extremities. There is emotional susceptibility, loss of attention and hearing, which increases the risk of dying in an accident.
36 hours without sleep : The symptoms listed above worsen, and markers of inflammation begin to appear throughout the body, which affects the cardiovascular system, and the endocrine system, so that the normal functioning of the organs begins to be affected .
48 hours without sleep: This is where there are differences with the film. When the human body is exposed to 48 without sleep it begins to fall into microsleep, this causes the brain to shut down momentarily trying to find a balance. However, in the film the micro-dreams do not appear so all the aforementioned symptoms worsen, including an exponential increase in disorientation.
72 hours without sleep: Multisystem failure begins to affect the brain, to the point where hallucinations begin to appear.
96 hours without sleep : catastrophic failure of all body functions, heart failure, irreversible multi-system damage. Death.
5 ^ What exactly is the sleep disorder in Awake?
Now, as we saw, the sleep disorder that we see in the film is not exactly like the one that is documented in any health portal you might find. The electromagnetic radiation that causes this disorder keeps the brain constantly on alert, and only shuts down when the individual dies. That is why there are no states of unconsciousness, even when someone is seriously injured.
When someone receives a traumatic injury or loss of blood, or a strong emotion, in general, loss of consciousness occurs in response to a loss of pressure in the pumping of blood that causes the brain to shut down as a preventive measure against a decrease in blood pressure. With a more limited flow of oxygen to the brain, it tries to keep online the functions we do not control such as breathing, the endocrine system, and so on.
But in the film, the brain cannot turn off momentarily and perhaps that is why the other symptoms worsen brutally, because the brain perhaps begins to turn off other areas in order to keep the individual awake.
6 ^ What is the cure for sleep disorder in Awake?
As we suspected at the beginning of the film, and then confirmed at the very end, the way in which the malfunction of the brain can be reversed is to momentarily stop vital functions, and reactivate them again. Matilda did indeed stop breathing for a minute, before the cops brought her back. Noah stopped breathing when in the middle of his disorientation he hooked up to a bare electrical current wire and was then brought back with a defibrillator.
The woman they had in the military installations stated that it was not the first time and she must have been dead, so it is inferred that at some point after the electromagnetic pulse she suffered a cardiac arrest and then was brought back.
7 ^ Why does the disorder seem to affect some faster than others?
Throughout the film we see how while a few hours after the event, many people already showed considerable signs of deterioration, Jill, and her family, and then Dodge showed a relatively stable state. Why?
In Noah’s case, the ultimate key factor is age. A teenager’s body is much more resistant to the effects of sleep deprivation than an adult. In Dodge’s case, he claims that he generally slept only two to three hours a night, so his body is used to some loss of sleep. And in the case of Jill, who suffered for a long time from sleep disorders, her body also has some adaptation to those symptoms.
8 ^ What does the final scene of Awake mean? Is Jill alive or is she dead?
In the end, after Matilda realizes the connection that exists between the momentary deaths of her and her brother, with their ability to sleep, they decide that to save Jill, they must do the same, literally kill her and then bring her back to life.
The movie is deliberately ambiguous in this regard, and we only hear a gasp at the end before the screen goes dark. Does this mean that Jill is alive? The answer is yes. In fact, this scene is very similar to the scene where the car falls into a lake at the beginning of the movie, and in both, Jill ends up taking a deep breath. Which implies that – these scenes being a reflection of the other – Jill did indeed survive.
Now, just like Noah, Jill needs a long break to start normalizing her bodily functions assuming some of them have not been irreversible.
9 ^ What is Awake’s message?
The premise of the film is to ask ourselves if we would put someone we love at risk for the sake of many more people. Many of us would not hesitate for a second to hand over a stranger if doing that could save millions of lives, but we would not think the same if it were a son, a daughter, or a brother, or our mother who was at risk.
Jill decides very early in the film that she is not going to put her daughter at risk, even if it means that she has no idea how to cure the disorder, she simply makes the trip to the facility hoping to free the sleeping woman, and that together with Matilda they can start a new life in that new world, in fact everything Jill teaches Matilda is with that goal in mind. Jill never thought of putting her daughter at risk.
However, Noah and Dodge did think that way, they both believe that Matilda can help them and the others to sleep, which is their only way out of almost certain death. And to avoid a mass extinction event.
What would you have done instead of Jill or Noah? I will read your answer in the comments.
Questions? Annotations? More doubts? The comments section is open just below this post so feel free to use it. See you in the next installment of Ending Explained here at El Sabanero X.