A NIGHTMARE WAKES (2020) Reviews and overview of Frankenstein creation film

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‘The birth of Frankenstein’

A Nightmare Wakes is a 2020 American film adapting the novel Frankenstein, as told through the life of Mary Shelley. As she creates her masterpiece, she gives birth to a monster.

Written and directed by Nora Unkel, the Eggplant Picture & Sound-Wild Obscura Films production stars Alix Wilton Regan, Philippe Bowgen, Giullian Yao Gioiello and Lee Garrett. Produced by Frédéric Fiore, Robert Menzies, Gabriel Rosenstein, Devin Shepherd and Eric Tavitian


” …Unkel’s film ambitiously adapts the story of Frankenstein through the context of its creation. It’s through this approach that we’re given insight into what that process very well might have looked like, with Unkel taking great care to accurately present some of the key life experiences that no doubt allowed for Mary to conjure up such a terrifying and enduring tale.” Bloody Disgusting

” …by falling back on familiar creative archetype stories the film sidelines the more interesting and ambitious elements present. The film never quite strikes the balance of biopic tendencies with fantasy elements, resulting in a punishing film that doesn’t earn the martyrdom it attempts to bestow on Mary Shelley.” Bloody Good Horror

“Like many low-budget period pieces, A Nightmare Wakes occasionally runs up against the limits of its means, and some elements can’t help but feel slightly anachronistic[…] But it’s a smart, haunting little film, a gothic fantasia about the grandmother of all gothic horrors.” Boston Hassle

“With its narrow scope getting wound up in redundant drama cycles, A Nightmare Wakes didn’t broaden my perspective on this period in Mary Shelley’s life. I can’t say the creative liberties taken with the truth shed any insightful light on “Frankenstein’s” genesis either.” Culture Crypt

“None of the character performances slipped over the edge into overdone; even Philippe Bowgen’s highly theatrical performance of Lord Byron fits the icon of debauchery like a glove […] A Nightmare Wakes is a story about abuse, postpartum depression, and the tortured marriage creatives have with their art.” The Horrorculturist 

“Honestly, much as with the novel, I could go on and on into the night about the intricacies and heart-achingly striking moments in this film I haven’t even touched on […] Suffice it to say, the love Nora Unkel and company have for Shelley as a complex and utterly human figure shines through every moment of this film.” Killer Horror Critic

” …it lifts the film from being a science fictionized biopic into a psychoanalytical analysis of a woman who in the end had very simple requests: to be loved and to be a mother […] certainly do not let this gem of a film pass you by (even if it is just for the intrigues)!” Loud and Clear

“The process of authoring Frankenstein becomes as painful and traumatic as the children Mary gives birth to. A Nightmare Wakes creates a dark, Gothic 19th-century atmosphere by utilizing a stripped-down yet well-designed set and score, and plunges viewers deep into Mary’s waking nightmare.” Rue Morgue


Premiered at the Salem Horror Fest in October 2020. Streams on Shudder on February 4th 2021.

Cast and characters:

Alix Wilton Regan … Mary Shelley
Philippe Bowgen … Lord Byron
Giullian Yao Gioiello … Percy Shelley
Lee Garrett … Doctor John Polidori
Claire Glassford … Claire Clairmont
Shannon Spangler … Harriet Shelley
Nicholas Freeland Clark … Partygoer


MARY SHELLEY (2017) Reviews and overview

GOTHIC (1986) Reviews and overview


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