Saturday, December 4, 2010
Dead Awake is not a Twilight parody
But it does play one on TV.
I spent the first three weeks of my awareness of Dead Awake being 100% sure it was a parody of the Twilight saga. I mean, how could advertising so blatantly similar be anything but parody? These posters hint at it -- okay, more than hint at it. But the outdoor advertising -- bus ads, billboards, things that aren't easy to find on the web or reproduce on a blog -- were dead ringers. The configuration of the characters standing on the outdoor ads for Dead Awake was exactly the same as those standing on the outdoor ads for either Twilight: New Moon or Twilight: Eclipse, I can't remember which, with the only switch being that there were two women and one man, rather than vice versa. (Or should we call them two girls and one boy?) Plus, the title fonts were identical, down to the P in "Eclipse" and the second D in "Dead" flaring off and narrowing down to a point.
No. Straight rip-off.
A good tip-off should have been that it stars Nick Stahl, a humorless actor if ever there was one. But since he hadn't been around for a couple years -- though strangely, he's in two movies that open this week, the other being Meskada -- I thought it was possible he was returning to "prominence" with a makeover as a comedic actor. After all, Rose McGowan and Amy Smart have both appeared in comedies -- in fact, I think they've both appeared in parodies.
But no. This is not an entire movie dedicated to tweaking the sacred cows of Twilight fans. Instead, it wants to hoodwink them and take their money.
Consider the plot synopsis from IMDB:
"Dylan, a young man working at a funeral parlor, is trying to unravel a mystery that shattered his life ten years earlier. After faking his own funeral to see who will show up, he befriends a mysterious street junkie and is reunited with an old love from his past. The lives of these three characters are transformed by supernatural forces as Dylan discovers that no one is who they seem to be."
So not a direct rip-off in content, right? In fact, sounds kind of interesting. Who hasn't wanted to fake their own funeral to see what the world really thought of them? Why should Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn have all the fun?
But because the movie's plot exists in the same supernatural realm of the macabre and the undead as Twilight, New Films International (how's that for a fly-by-night company) decided to duplicate the advertising campaign almost exactly. This is almost the kind of trick I would expect from Asylum, makers of such straight-to-video mockbusters as Transmorphers and Snakes on a Train. Except in that case the title would also be similar, like Starlight, Twinking Light or something equally silly.
Well, it's not as though Dead Awake is exactly storming the multiplexes. It's getting a decent advertising push here in Los Angeles -- I've seen its ad most often on buses -- but there's a good chance some of you reading this will never have heard of it. In fact, it's got one of the strangest types of limited release I've seen -- it doesn't even get to have its own screening room all day. It's playing at two theaters very close to me, but in both cases, it's getting two nighttime shows only -- no matinees. Don't think I've ever seen that before, at least not for a brand new movie. And oh yeah, one of the two theaters where it's playing is a second-run theater. Stranger still.
Given the small scope of its release, we aren't likely to get a very good barometer on whether this advertising campaign was successful. It doesn't even seem likely that the film will crack the top 20 in its first weekend. In fact, maybe only because they thought they could capitalize on Twilight is the film even getting a theatrical release at all.
So in the same way that there appears to be a character hovering between life and death in Dead Awake, Dead Awake itself is hovering between two diametrically opposed states: theater and video. In a way, it also seems to hover between existence and non-existence, as it does not even have a wikipedia page.
Well, at the very least, Twilight fans are aware of it, if only because they probably thought it was Twilight: Breaking Dawn, already ready to be released, from their casual first glance at the poster. If New Films International gets its way, at least some of them will come out and see it this weekend.
But don't pity them. They're Twilight fans, and they deserve our mockery.