89 of the Best 'Waking Up from a Nightmare' Scenes in Less Than 3 Minutes

"Who the hell wakes up like that!?"

The answer: no one -- ever -- in the history of the universe. What are we talking about here? Well, you know in movies when a character is fast asleep and then all of a sudden they spring up, eyes wide, mouth agape, sweating and panting like they're me walking up a flight of stairs? That. 

Even though it can be a little overused and cliché, the "rude awakening" is a staple of cinematic history and language. In fact, 89 of these rousings (did I just make up that word?) have been put together in a montage by editor Roman Holiday (aka: Matt) to celebrate decades of unnatural, but oh so classically dramatic reactions to restless nights. (You can read the full list of films used right here in the video's description.)

One thing that came to mind while watching this montage was how different directors and DPs shot these things. Really, how many ways can you capture someone shooting out of bed? (The bright-eyed dreamer in me says an infinitillion. The cynical Daria-clone in me says "Shut up, you.") But really, it seems like setting a camera on a tripod right in front of where the subject will end up was the camera position of choice. But why? Why not add a little more pizzazz -- a dolly, zoom, or something? These people are shooting out of bed in a great amount of fear and anxiety -- why not let the cinematography communicate that?

Also, can we just, for the record, unanimously agree that the clip from Out of the Body (1:59) is the best one in this video? Thanks.

What do you think about how "rude awakenings" are shot? What was your favorite from the montage? Let us know down in the comments!     

Your Comment


"Who the hell wakes up like that!?" I woke up like that a few times. I nearly jumped out bed sweating and gasping for air. Some nightmares were intense, but then again, I was also a lucid dreamer and a sleepwalker. There were times when I experienced sleep paralysis, and I forced myself to sit up. In my dream, I saw myself leave my body.

Movies may be exaggerated, but crazy stuff happens in real life too. Some people do have episodes of parasomnia. Movies just make it seem like it happens all the time.

March 11, 2015 at 10:19PM

Li Tian Hua

0:18, 0:20 and 0:41 are my personal favs in terms of performance, but a special mention to the gaffer goes out to 0:38 :)

March 11, 2015 at 11:19PM

Samu Amunét

This was fun to watch. Movies are so dramatic in so many ways. Thanks for this post!

March 12, 2015 at 9:26AM

Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP

I woke up like that once. My brother and I shared a room growing up. The beds end to end with a bookcase between. He stretched in his sleep and knocked the bookcase over with the entire contents, books, potted plants, etc landing in my lap and legs. I screamed and sat up in my sleep.

March 14, 2015 at 5:05PM, Edited March 14, 5:05PM

Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker

Came across this while trying to find some scenes for reference for a short film that i am making. This one helped me a lot, just wanted to thank you for putting this up. And thanks Matt for putting all these scenes together :)

January 9, 2017 at 11:05AM