Rude Awakening Film Details
Overview: A real estate broker finds himself having dreams that seem to be incredibly real. They are so real, in fact, that he begins to wonder which is the dream and which is reality.
Review: Norman Shenley(Denholm Elliott), a country estate agent, turns up for work on Monday morning, he quickly gropes his secretary Lolly (Lucy Gutteridge), whom he desperately desires to be with, once he gets rid of his old frumpy wife. Their unprofessional canoodlings are interrupted by the first customer of the day, who introduces himself as one Mr Rayburn(James Laurenson), who as the executor of a clients will, wishes Shenley to deal with the selling of his deceased clients property, one Lower Moat Manor, an old home some 15 miles north. So with a hand drawn directional map in hand, Shenley leaves right away to survey the property, having been left the keys by Raeburn. Once there he finds the keys don’t work, but no matter as the large oak carved front door creaks open, hesitantly he proceeds in to commence his survey, the house is large and unlived in, but it is furnished and very dusty, seemingly having been left as it was before the owner strangely disappeared. Shenley lightheartedly talks into an old intercom and is surprised when he is answered, the voice tells him he “shouldn’t have done it” Shenley asks who it is but again he gets the same reply, he questions what it is he shouldn’t have done, the reply is that he “shouldn’t have killed his wife”, this unsettles him. Shenley pleads innocence from the unknown voice, saying he only just had breakfast this morning with his wife, the voice replies “you killed her on Friday the 13th”. With that a dead body of a woman falls from a dumbwaiter, its his wife, in terror, Shenley flees the house…with a start he awakes in his bed at home, it was all a dream, somewhat relieved he sets off for work, where he tells Lolly his sexy secretary, the strange story of his bad dream, she tells him to go check on the house to see if its really there, to settle his nerves, Shenley agrees that that would be a good idea and anyway he says reaching in to his pocket, “I still have the map Raeburn gave me” Shenley and Lolly look at each other startled, how can this be? Rude Awakening it must be said messes with the viewers head more than once, as the viewer is continuously led to believe the present scene to be the reality an the previous one to be the dream, but director Sasdy, keeps pushing the dream sequences until they cross reference each other in a way that is frankly absurd but wholly intriguing. Shenley’s nightmares truly do take on a reality as the characters that inhabit his life change drastically in each subsequent dream, this makes the deduction of which is the reality all the harder to work out. The Lolly character in particular goes from ditzy bimbo to punk rocker, to a very staid conservative character indeed, so the possibility that they do or do not have a relationship is also kept under wraps until the final scene. Elliott portrays the despair of a man increasingly losing control of his life and mind superbly, although his scenes with the rather delicious Gutteridge do seem a little forced and uncomfortable, perhaps due to his sexuality. There’s some rather amusing scenes with Shenley and his wife, as they discuss his dreams and their impending divorce, that she apparently knows nothing about, Mrs Shenley, despite her frumpiness seems rather nice, intimations being that it is actually her that is the hard done by one in the relationship. Sasdy, a veteran horror director with some fine films behind him, holds it all together very well indeed, its pacing is spot on and the viewer never tires of the unfolding drama. There’s a few good set pieces too, even one homage to Antonio Mercero’s La Cabina(1972) where Shenley is trapped in a phone booth, another has him trapped in a block of flats that is being demolished by a wrecking ball. There is one alternative possibility to the supernatural link and that is that Shenley is told he has a tumour on the brain, so like in The Mark of Satan there is maybe a possible rational explanation for his odd behaviour and his ultimately tragic deeds, either way it leaves the ending somewhat open to interpretation. This is certainly one of the better episodes in the Hammer House of Horror and 70’s fashions aside, it still seems very fresh.
Duration: 52 min
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
Also known as: Rude Awakening