Directed by director duo, Carlos Montaner and Liz Fania Werner, Waking Karma, is the second movie from the pair and delivers an edge-of-the-seat narrative, teeming with psychological malice and featuring the best horror villain of the year so far.
Waking Karma – What it’s All About
Waking Karma follows a 17-year-old girl that, having escaped a brain-washed cult while still in the womb of her mother, learns her father – the sadistic cult leader – has discovered her whereabouts and is set to come and take her back to what he sees as her intended way of life.
Finding out through a hand-posted letter, her mother, Sunny (played by Kimberly Alexander), warns the endangered girl of her father’s letter before they both flee to a remote cabin where they plan to find safety.
The owners of the cabin are friends of Sunny’s, ex-cultists, and fellow deserters. Butch (Bradley Fisher) and Priscilla (Christine Sloane) fled the cult and have since done everything in their power to bring the murderous group down once and for all. However, their endeavors came with a price, forcing them to live off-grid and under the protection of an elaborate security system.
However, despite the many precautions taken by all involved, Karma’s father tracks his daughter down and turns up at the secret home. Karma is found and forced to undergo a series of psychological trials at the hand of her father, designed to break down her spirit and prepare her for reincarnation in a deadly ritual.
Michael Madsen Steals the Show in Waking Karma
Despite all of the acting talent involved in Waking Karma, Michael Madsen really steals the show as Karma’s cult leader father, Michael Madsen. His chilling performance works wonders to perfectly encapsulate the very essence of his role as a sadistic cultist as, through a series of sinister tests, attempts to break down his estranged daughter, to prepare her for the end-game ritual that is set for calamity and deadly disaster.
Having a proportionate share of the 87 minutes of screen time, Madsen carries Waking Karma through the majority of the movie, compelling viewers with his nefarious ways and keeping us engaged with his creepy portrayal of the headman of the malevolent cult.
Waking Karma Feels Rushed, at Times
While we’re usually happy with a fleeting runtime, we can’t help but feel that Waking Karma was rushed through production. There seems to be an abundance of scenes that have unnecessarily been cut short, where lending a little more depth to them would have added greatly to the experience of the story. Another thirty minutes or so on to the runtime would have been welcome and given enough time to properly lay the foundations of the story.
Not enough was explained about the cult, either. We were given snippets of information about them, but only where absolutely necessary. As fans of cult rituals and cults themselves (in movies, of course), a few more flashbacks to give a little background would have tied the movie up nicely.
Waking Karma Review – Summary
Waking Karma had us pleasantly surprised. On the surface, it’s merely yet another cult horror reel. However, watching the movie reveals it to be far more than a run-of-the-mill addition to the sub-genre. While we would have liked to have seen more surrounding the cult aspect of Waking Karma, the movie instead focuses on building the character of the ominous Paul (we agree, the name itself doesn’t conjure up images of evil) and the psychological games he subjects his daughter to.
With a clever twist, an interesting narrative and a blinding performance by Madsen, Waking Karma is definitely one to add to your ‘to-watch’ list.