All right, it’s time to come clean: I have a fascination with evil. Gimme horns and hooves, brother! Since I was a child, I have loved all things leather-winged and fanged and seeking to destroy mankind. I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with my appreciation for the demonic form because I recognize that stuff doesn’t exist. At least I’ve never seen it. Sober anyway. It was this devil-love that initially drew me to the documentary Wake Up.
Suggested to me by Netflix, this movie is about a man named Jonas Elrod, who, after his good friend’s death, begins seeing spirits, angels, and demons. While it was the promise of demons that piqued my interest, the evil in this documentary was lacking (except for a great scene with a spiritual photographer.) Despite this diabolic deficiency, it is an excellent film. I have been reeled in by faux-documentaries before (like Street Thief, another great film), so I was quick to check via the Internet if this is a work of fiction. It appears to be non-fiction, although falling into that same gray area as religion: one man’s non-fiction is another man’s fiction.
Jonas seems genuine enough, though I have no way of knowing for sure. What really struck me about the film, though, was the ending. Jonas travels to Washington to partake in a Native American vision quest. Throughout the film, Jonas is clearly searching (or at least pretending to search) for reasons why he can see what others cannot. He clearly doesn’t like discussing the phenomena, and these experiences create strife between him and his girlfriend. But after four days in the forest without food or water, Jonas looks happy, at ease. Smiling, he speaks my favorite line in the film, “I haven’t gone insane; I’ve gone sane.” He says during his vision quest, while focusing on the concept of god, he experienced a voice telling him, “All pointers point in the same direction.” He then saw a big-top tent, empty and collapsing, which he interpreted as religion.
Real or not, I think the ending delivers an important message: the divine so often exists outside of religion. Religion, in fact, may start one on the path, but just as often obscures reality with unnecessary details. Obscuring details might not matter anyway, if there’s only one place to end up after all. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Whatever your stance on religion and demons and aliens, watching this film will be time well spent.