Wakener Image


By Alan Ng | June 14, 2023

I feel a specific kind of joy knowing that good science fiction films are no longer in the hands of the big studios. That current off-the-shelf technology allows emerging and indie filmmakers their space in the genre. This is especially true of writer-director Anthony Ferraro’s sci-fi short, Wakener.

Our story takes place on a space station in the far future. Approaching the station is an “ancient” spaceship approaches, fueled and armed by nuclear power and weapons. Not wanting to raise the alarm, a broken and frustrated technician and a member of the military guard are sent to investigate and send the ship in a different direction. Our heroes uncover a sinister secret throughout their investigation that sends the entire mission plunging toward catastrophe.

“…uncover[s] a sinister secret throughout their investigation…”

Let me get the downer part out of the way first. Wakener is a straightforward story about an impending disaster and the government cover-up to brush the incident aside. Outside of the narrative, there’s not much depth. Also, the acting feels scripted; the actors recite lines and dialogue without drilling them into the story’s lore. This happens a lot in sci-fi because the words and phrases fall into the world of fantasy. Making it sound authentic, normal, or like everyday conversation is hard.

Where the film shines is its use of CG effects. Outer space looks fantastic, with its ships and research stations navigating the void of the cosmos set against a starry backdrop. It all moves well, and we always have a sense of space and context. The practical sets, costumes, and futuristic props are high quality for an indie production. Let’s also be real: because of its indie budget, the overall production quality is best compared to television sci-fi of old, like early Star Trek: The Next Generation or Stargate: SG-1, and not the dark and gritty Aliens.

During the 16-minute runtime of Wakener, Ferraro has stitched together a good-looking sci-fi thriller. His writing shows he can tell a tale. I can’t wait to see what is next in the pipeline and how far the filmmaker pushes indie sci-fi tech and storytelling.

For screening information about Wakener, visit Anthony Ferraro’s official website.

Wakener (2023)

Directed and Written: Anthony Ferraro

Starring: Rhomeyn Johnson, Sapna Gandhi, Anthony Di Petro, Jonathan Castile, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Wakener Image

"…a good-looking sci-fi thriller."

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