Just what will our world look like in one thousand years? Will Earth still be considered mother, or will we have moved on to a new, more resourceful planet? How about the people, us, humanity? Often, science fiction shows us a future using a technological perspective - but what about us... people? Will we look the same? Will we think the same? Will we still be one big, happy, divided family? Bright or bleak is the question and writer, director Raeshelle Cooke goes for the answer fully and completely - with her short film, "Woke."
Our hero in this film, Danai, wakes up in a random wooded area and immediately finds a set of glasses with a bright red glow to them. Her surroundings, save the forest, is dilapidated and empty. We quickly learn that she is not alone as she makes her way to an abandoned building in the distance. The goggles, as it turns out, are what's known as "news goggles" and show the wearer the history of the human race. These goggles are broken however, so what comes through is segmented and fractured. As Danai continues her exploration and meets up with Sidney - a lone man who just happens to be in the area, we are slowly filled in on the whereabouts of the rest of the people. And the event that caused this... situation. Apparently, some form of race war raged for hundreds of years leaving black women all but gone. Slowly, as the film progresses, we are filled in on the details - as Danai and Sidney try and work through their differences. What happened exactly? You'll simply have to watch and find out - but it's quite an ending, to say the least. "Woke" is a science fiction flick that uses the genre to issue a warning or two. It's smart and one hundred percent indie.
Technically, "Woke" really is a mixed bag. While discussing low-budget, independent film - a certain look and presentation is naturally expected - but a few things with this film really stood out to me as feeling awkward. First and foremost, the font and colors used when displaying what is seen in the goggles. It sounds so petty to write, but the look of those fonts really and truly kept bringing me out of the film. Not only did it not look modern, but actually looked from the 1990s - yet the technology is meant to be futuristic. Again, it feels petty to mention, but had a huge impact on the film.
Other than that, perhaps a few transitions felt a little weird but generally speaking, the visual style and pacing felt pretty alright - moving the story from start to finish without a hitch. When discussing the acting, I'd be lying if I wrote everything was peachy-keen. There are a few awkward deliveries, and I don't really know how to describe the issue... except to write awkward. These moments are not the norm however, and for the most part, the two leading characters perform quite well with, and off of each other. You won't mistake this film for a heavily budgeted movie - and that's okay because it isn't. Yet I can say this... this may be indie, low-budget - but it's done pretty well.
When it's all said and done, without question "Woke" is a commentary and Cooke definitely has something to say. Yet it's all handled in a clever, entertaining way - and never comes across as too much to handle. I love how a genre film can be used to convey a message - without actually coming right out and saying it. In this case, the message is pretty clear - but it's definitely a fun ride to be on. Three stars.