As longtime readers know, I love me a supercut. This one by Roman Holiday explores the trope of characters sitting up in bed after a nightmare:

I love how the camera circles from left to right. I love that we don’t hear the screams. Stripped of context, it becomes clear what an artificial cinematic construct the wake-scream (or the sweaty wake-gasp) really is. Most people will never experience this kind of event in real life.

And yet: Movies are about extraordinary circumstances. Movies involve heroes taking a journey they’ll take exactly once. So on some level, the wake-scream is less a cliché than a signifier that yup, we’re in a movie, and we are headed on a specific kind of ride. That’s probably why we see them in the first act and not the third.