A NIGHTMARE WAKES is a psychological thriller on Shudder. It’s based on Mary Shelley’s writing of her iconic Frankenstein novel. I do feel obligated to “warn” you that this plays out very much like a slow-burn drama. Read our full A Nightmare Wakes movie review here!

A NIGHTMARE WAKES is a new Shudder addition. Officially, this movie is a drama, but I would say it’s more of a slow-burn drama with a psychological thriller plot. Personally, I was expecting something very different solely because of its Shudder release.

This is why I feel the need to mention this as the first thing here. Maybe if you’re not expecting the classic Shudder thriller, you’ll enjoy it more. Also, it’s a take on Mary Shelley’s life during her writing of the Frankenstein novel. This alone should intrigue many horror fans. 

Continue reading our A Nightmare Wakes movie review below.

Mary Shelley’s nightmare

A Nightmare Wakes is definitely not your classic drama, but the pace and emotion are more reminiscent of that genre. However, once you get into it, the psychological thriller plot does become more apparent. 

The movie is a slice of Mary Shelley’s life which includes several other household author names. As the movie opens, her life isn’t going too great, which turns into nightmares that seem to seep into her waking hours as well. All of this is happening while she’s writing Frankenstein and her story, nightmares, and real-life begin to blend in the strangest ways.

The IMDb description of this movie is “An adaption of the novel Frankenstein as told through the life of Mary Shelley”. I think this is grossly overselling the plot of A Nightmare Wakes which will only lead to terrible user reviews.

A Nightmare Wakes – Shudder Review

Watch A Nightmare Wakes on Shudder!

Nora Unkel is the writer and director of A Nightmare Wakes and she definitely has a style that intrigues me. In other words, I would love it if she did a more obvious genre film. This is her feature film debut which means I can certainly give her credit for being ballsy in her clear style. Also, I should mention that Alix Wilton Regan (The Wife) was very impressive as Mary Shelley!

For me, the big issue for A Nightmare Wakes is the marketing of this movie. I love the Frankenstein story and I’m always curious about authors of books I enjoy. However, this book is neither an obvious Frankenstein story nor a Mary Shelley movie. It’s something in between (or maybe outside of) this.

A slow-burn psychological drama that made me curious but didn’t deliver any of what I expected. Hopefully, you’ll be ready to keep an open mind when watching this movie and – in turn – enjoy it more.

A Nightmare Wakes is out on Shudder from February 4, 2021.


Writer & Director: Nora Unkel
Stars: Alix Wilton Regan, Philippe Bowgen, Giullian Yao Gioiello, Lee Garrett, Claire Glassford, Shannon Spangler


While composing her famous novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley descends into an opium-fueled fever dream while carrying on a torrid love affair with Percy Shelley. As she writes, the characters of her novel come to life and begin to plague the relationships with those closest to her as the shadow of her monster threatens to overcome her.

An unsettlingly intimate portrayal of a brilliant artist at her most troubled, A Nightmare Wakes traces the tortured birth of a timeless masterwork and the rightful ascension of its creator to stand alongside her creation.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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