Scary movies have a very profound way of confronting real-world fears. Could you discuss how "Wake" utilizes the horror genre to explore themes of mortality, reality, and identity?

First off, I really appreciate this question. Horror filmmakers rarely get asked about the thematic undercurrents of their films. For any horror movie I write, I try to think of the supernatural aspects as if the whole movie was just a dream our hero were having, and all these fantastical things are really just symbolic representations of fears they have in the real-world. In this case, we have this nurse working a night shift in this morgue, and her "real world" fears are about her mother back at home with dementia. And that becomes sort of symbolically manifested by the physical corpse that comes into her custody. And then the most overt fear our hero has deals with her mother's escalating disconnect from reality... Mom is "losing her mind" from her illness. This is then mirrored by our hero's own sense of reality starting to crumble around her as things get more and more supernatural. So the end of our story...she woke up, and it all turned out to be a dream (which it's not...but let's just say "if")...and then she went to a therapist and told them about this dream she had about "death" and "going insane"...then probably any good therapist would say, "well, don't you see some pretty clear connections with your mom? Isn't this your mind's way of exploring these fears in a safer way, by making them so fantastical and turning 'dementia' into a 'monster'?" And I think the horror genre at its best serves exactly that purpose, as a way for audiences to process real world fears in a safer way. Because ultimately we know when we leave the theater that the monsters aren't nearly as real as the problems they represent.

The concept of reality becoming unknowable and losing one's identity is intriguing and scary as well. Can you delve into how these themes manifest within the story of your film and how they might resonate with the audience?

Most of my favorite horror films of all time play with a disconnect from reality: The Shining, The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Ring, It, Hereditary, etc. All the lead characters are living in a kind of waking nightmare in which reality gives way more and more to surrealism as the movie goes on. Which, specifically in my film, ties right in to the theme introduced with the mother's dementia. Again, I think it comes back to exploring a character's psyche in a kind of Jungian way, where all their real-world anxieties get to be visualized as these fantastical metaphorical monsters. It's why horror is such a filmmaker's playground, because you really have room to push your imagination when you're not beholden to the rules of the real world. You just have to stay true to the rules of the "nightmare world" that you're creating for your hero. Now, first and foremost, I'm hoping that the audience can turn their brain off and enjoy my movie on a visceral level...where all you're focusing on is the danger our hero is in...and you can be on the edge of your seat rooting for them to survive. But then when it's over I'm hoping all these thematic metaphorical connections just give you an unconscious "feeling in your gut" that there was a lot more to this than cheap thrills.