Before I Wake (2016) Ending Explained

Before I Wake (2016) ending explained

Last updated on April 5th, 2024 at 10:59 pm

Before I Wake (2016) is a horror thriller film directed by Mike Flanagan. This is a slow peace movie that tells the story of foster parents Mark and Jessie. They adopt Cody from an orphanage. They suddenly learn, though, that while Cody is sleeping, his dreams come to life. Though the movie plot is very straight its ending left an unanswered question for the viewers.

Before I Wake Ending Explained and Plot Story in Details

* * * Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t seen the movie yet, turn back now! * * *

An armed man nervously walks into a child’s room. He pulls the trigger in response to an abrupt commotion. The man starts crying as the child is awakened by the gunfire.

The scene shifts to Jessie and Mark. Their young son Sean dies from a drowning accident. Later, they adopt a foster child. He is an eight-year-old named Cody Morgan. Mark and Jessie are informed by the social worker Natalie Friedman that Cody’s mother passed away from cancer. He was three years old then. Also, two previous attempts to place him with foster parents failed.

Before Cody goes to sleep on his first night with the Hobsons, he tells Jessie about a terrifying being known as “the Canker Man.”

Jessie dismisses the incident and assures Cody that no one can be harmed by nightmares. Later that evening, as multicolored butterflies flutter across the living room, Jessie and Mark are astounded. Since Cody enjoys butterflies, Mark tries to photograph one of them to show him, but when Cody awakens, the butterflies are gone.

The following day at school, he makes friends with Annie and fights with a bully. When Cody asks Mark at home who the child in a picture in the living room is, Mark responds it is Sean. The couple tries to give their dead child a hug that evening after they see him. Sean vanishes when Cody opens his eyes. Jessie makes use of Cody’s ability to help him realize his dreams after realizing them. Sean’s dead son appears and performs scenes from the home videos after she shows Cody.

Days later, Mark accuses his wife of only loving Cody for his gift and removes the images of Sean.

When Cody nods off at school, “the Canker Man” materializes in front of the bully and devours him as Annie looks on in horror and screams, waking him up.

In the meantime, Jessie visits the doctor and complains about her foster child’s insomnia; the doctor then prescribes medicine. Unbeknownst to Mark, she adds it to Cody’s beverage. That evening, Mark is unable to awaken Cody because Sean reappears before them but this time he looks like a monster. Mark is devoured by the Canker Man, and Jessie is rendered unconscious.

As Cody dials 911, she awakens. Social services remove Cody from an orphanage out of concern for Mark’s sudden disappearance and because they believe there has been domestic violence.

Jessie steals Natalie’s files on Cody after she rejects her requests for assistance. Whelan Young, the man from the opening scene, who was one of his first foster parents, is located by her. He reveals to Jessie that his wife was killed similarly to Mark when she fell ill and reminded Cody of his mother. She only appeared in Cody’s dreams as a hollow replica.

Cody’s nightmares could only be stopped by killing him, according to Whelan. He asks Jessie to try, but she refuses. She continues her search and comes across a box of Cody’s mother’s possessions that includes a journal and a pillow in the shape of a butterfly.

Late at night, Jessie finds the orphanage to be dark, haunted by Cody’s nightmares, and the other kids bound to the walls with vines.

As soon as she locates Cody, the Canker Man begins to attack her until she exhibits the butterfly pillow. The monster transforms into Cody as she hugs it, then vanishes with the vines. Cody is taken home by Jessie while still unconscious.

The next day, Cody reads Jessie’s mother’s journal, in which she expresses her love for him and his gift. Jessie surmises that Cody’s dim memories of his mother —pale and deformed from cancer— are the Canker Man. Cody thanks Jessie for her admiration of his talent and recognizes her as his new mother.

The movie ends here.

This movie is a great watch but not for a die-hard horror fan. The heartbreaking story of Cody is also beautiful to hook until the end as Flanagan wanted to create.

It felt less like a horror film and more like the tragic, heartbreaking tale of a young child who had lost his mother. Then the foster parents lost their son. They were all attempting to cope with their situation.


Original Title: Before I Wake

Other Titles: Somnia (Working title), Insomnia (Romania), O Sono da Morte (Brazil)

Genre: Horror/ Thriller

Runtime: 1hr 37min

Original Language: English

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Written by Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard

Tagline: Fear your dreams.

Release date: January 05, 2018 (USA)

Origin Country: United States

Filming locations: Fairhope, Alabama, USA

Official Website: Official Facebook

Brainless Pen Rating!

Cast of Characters

Actor/Actress Name Characters Name
Kate Bosworth Jessie
Thomas Jane Mark
Jacob Tremblay Cody
Oleksandr Reshetilov Jacob

Official Trailer of Before I Wake (2016)

Continue reading, 28 Days Later (2002) Ending Explained