Title – The Nightmare (2015)
Director – Rodney Ascher (Room 237)
Cast – Siegfried Peters, Stephen Michael Joseph
Plot – A documentary looking at the frightening condition known as sleep paralysis that looks to also recreate the often haunting visions the sufferers of the condition experience.
“I’d try to fight it but it was just so strong”
Review by Eddie on 21/03/2016
Ever had a bad nightmare? I dono, being chased by something, falling off a cliff or dreaming that something horrible has happened to you, we’ve more than likely all been there at some stage but whatever night terrors we’ve experienced, its highly likely they’ve got nothing on the subjects in Rodney Ascher’s new documentary The Nightmare.
Looking at a wide range of people who suffer from the mysterious yet undoubtedly creepy phenomenon known as sleep paralysis, Room 237 director Ascher mixes in interviews with sufferers of the condition and some suitably sinister re-enactments that try to convey what these unfortunate souls experience or have experienced in their sleeping lives.
What strikes most vividly about these sufferers and subsequent re-enactments is the universal themes that run through their experiences. From similar figures, through to sounds and sensations there is too much comparable evidence to suggest that these people are just out right loons (even though some of them aren’t what we’d call “normal”).
As we get deeper and deeper into these peoples stories and visions it becomes increasingly darker and Ascher evokes a consistent feeling of unease as the lines between dreams and out of body moments become more blurred but it’s not enough to sustain the 80 minute runtime of the documentary.
By the half way point it’s hard to not feel as though everything that needed to be told has been told and without any real true effort to talk to professionals or seek to find out more about the history of this condition, Ascher’s gimmick of recreating visions starts to wane and it’s an unshakeable fact that the film could’ve worked a lot better in a shorter format or even a series of 4 or so episodes that each look at different aspects of sleep paralysis.
At first intriguing and horrific, The Nightmare sadly descends into a repeated pattern that quickly becomes unfortunately uninteresting. One thing that the Nightmare does succeed in is in making us think twice about laying our head on the pillow for a good night’s rest and for making us thankful we don’t have hat wearing entities visit us on a regular basis come nap time.
2 ½ metal claws out of 5