By: Daniel P’Lopez
A Wake, an independent film, starring upcoming actor and entertainer Noah Urrea, is a melodrama that pulls back the scab of drug addiction and adolescent sexual identity at a family memorial. Noah’s character ‘Mitchell’ has a twin brother named Mason who’s died of an apparent drug overdose. Mitchell is holding onto the past and seeks the reason behind his brother’s death. Urrea, a young Jason Priestly look alike, does a remarkable job playing his own twin through special effects. The 21-year-old has a bright future in film, as well as several of the other cast members.
Mitchell’s younger sister Molly, played by Sofia Rosinsky, a precocious, and feisty eleven year-old organizes a wake for her departed brother at their family home, mainly because her parents and grandmother just want to move forward and not deal with the unresolved issues of Mason’s overdose. Megan, the oldest sister, played by Megan Trout, comes home from college to attend Mason’s wake, only to feel a sense of unwelcoming from most of her family who are intent on saying Mason’s death was an accident. Megan’s determined to shine a light on the truth, even if it’s with a blow torch, and she doesn’t seem to care who gets burned in the fallout. One of the few comical scenes in the film is when Megan is practically thrown out of the wake and then bumps and grinds the hottie Uber driver who had dropped her off earlier. Talk about releasing family tension.
Before his death, Mason was dating a guy named Jameson, played by Kolton Stewart. The high school romance slowly blossoms, but Mason gets involved with prescription drugs that lead to his untimely death.
Throughout the film, Mitchell tries to contact his brother, searching for meaning in objects and memories. He desperately wants to pierce that spiritual veil, so he visits a psychic, something that’s against his family’s staunch vague Christian values. Mitchell feels his brother is reaching out to him from the spirit world, which prompts him to buy a Ouija board online. Mitchell coaxes Jameson into playing the Ouija with him to communicate with Mason, but Jameson is not feeling it. What’s interesting about the family is that they are deeply religious, but none of them are very spiritual. Clearly, Mitchell is trying to awaken himself spiritually in order to commune with his brother.
Family drama arises during the wake with revelations that may or may not be true about Mitchell’s death. Mitchell’s parents and “grannie” want to believe that Mason’s death was solely an accident, but Megan speculates otherwise as she was the last one to talk to him on the night of his death. However, it is Molly that blows the whole wake apart emotionally when she innocently outs Mason and Jameson’s sexual relationship during the celebration of life memorial.
The film is told in a slow, methodical and touching way. Although the characters may be conflicted about Mason’s death, and their own relationship with him, they aren’t stereotypes. The story could have been a little more dynamic if the history of the twins would have been played out more. On a technical note, the voices of the actors are sometimes hard to hear, and just when you think there is no background music to the film, it comes blaring through, disrupting the long pauses of silence. Over all, the film has an engaging storyline and compelling characters. A Wake is not just for an LBGQ+ audience, but also for anyone coping with the loss of a loved one.
A Wake is available on iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and on DVD.