RKS Film: “Waking up Dead”: Rock Bottom to Death or Salvation?

If you have viewed the 1947 or 2021 version of “Nightmare Alley” you have a very vivid recollection of what rock bottom is. In that film there was rock bottom to start, then success and then a horrific nightmarish rock bottom. In “Waking Up Dead” there would be a linear line of a descent to rock bottom. Will it lead to death or salvation?

Yes we have all seen rock bottom films that lead to destruction or rebirth. So the plot here is hardly new and the rock bottom for an actor is also hardly brand new. Take for example “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952) with Kirk Douglas as a ruthless manipulative movie director and Lana Turner as actress Georgia Lorrison who has taken to drink and ruination.

In “Waking up Dead” Danny Maldonado (Gabriel Sousa) is an actor in Los Angeles with some limited success but is in a dry spell. He is a self absorbed, promiscuous, callous and selfish man heading in a nasty downward spiral. His boyfriend leaves him, his agent dumps him, bill collectors are hounding him, he has been evicted from his apartment, his drug addict mother is dying and he loses a part in a Netflix series that could have reinvigorated his career. He has erectile dysfunction, runs out off toothpaste and soap in the bathroom and he can’t even succeed in hanging himself. He is also awfully stupid looking with his obsession with t-shirts assaulting the viewer with his armpit hair and doofus earrings.

But Lila (Judy Geeson) a former famous actress now a real estate agent is suffering the death of her son to a heroin overdose adds some levity to the film with her high-toned acting ability and tries to right the sinking Danny ship. He cruelly insults her and drives her off. Danny is a loser asshole no?

With a double-talking miserable wretch of an agent beautifully played by Traci Lords that exposes the shallow “fame for the moment agent”. Her motto is she only needs clients if they are successful and that is the closest they get to true friendship.

Is this a comedy? There are comedic moments but such moments do not propel the movie to comedic levels. The film is about desperation, infidelity, shallowness of Hollywood edifications with elements of LGBTQ satirization particularly Danny’s dress style. Crudely put it is payback time for a prick. Will the heroin in his veins be a fitting end or can miserable characters find salvation in hitting rock bottom? Give Hollywood rock bottom films he has a 50/50 chance of survival and lesser odds of being saved. Does Danny wake up dead or alive or does he wake up at all?

The director is Terracino.

You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuACQuz8jV8

The film is available on VOD and DVD, digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu, Vimeo and some local cable and satellite providers.

RKS Film Rating 78/100.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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