Sara West, Erik Thomson and Benson Jack Anthony star in ‘Awoken’

Daniel J Phillips.

Bad Girl’s Sara West will play a medical student named Karla who is desperate to find a cure for her brother who has a terminal sleepless illness in mystery/horror movie Awoken.

Benson Jack Anthony (800 Words, Cleverman) will play Karla’s brother Blake with Erik Thomson (800 Words, Storm Boy) as their foster uncle Robert in the film which marks the feature debut of producer/director Daniel J. Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay with Alan Grace.

Produced by McMahon International’s Craig McMahon (Red Hill, Crawlspace), Meridian Pictures’ Charles Billeh (Slam) and Phillips, the film starts shooting on March 5 in Adelaide’s Hendon Studios (co-owned by Phillips), supported by the SAFC.

Rialto will distribute in Australia/New Zealand with Richard Guardian’s Guardian Entertainment International handling international sales.

Phillips, who directed a bunch of shorts including Release, The Martyr and There’s Always Tomorrow, describes Awoken as the antithesis to gory fare such as the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

He and Grace set out to write a really “contained” film and then hit on the idea of basing the narrative on Fatal Familial Insomnia, a rare disease which leads to deterioration of mental function and loss of coordination and death, which can happen within months or in several years.

The twist in Awoken is that during Karla’s quest to help Blake she discovers there is a more sinister reason for his condition.

Thomson’s character looks after the siblings after the mysterious deaths of their parents and comes up with a new way to treat the disease.

West recently starred in Dead Lucky, Love Child and Don’t Tell. Faith Martin did the casting.

Phillips tells IF he is aiming for a tense, suspenseful tone in the vein of The Conjuring and Insidious, stating: “We’ve all seen scary films that make us afraid to go to sleep. This will be the first that will make us afraid to stay awake.”