Starring: Luis Tosar, Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan
You may like this if you liked: Julia’s Eyes (Guillem Morales, 2010), [Rec] (Juame Balagueró and Paco Plaza, 2007), Tesis (Alejandro Amenábar, 1996)
César (Tosar) lives a lonely life in an upper class tower block in Barcelona; he also works as the concierge on the front door. César is a man who finds it impossible to find happiness and indeed be happy, so he takes it upon himself to prevent the residents of the tower block to experience happiness themselves. He goes to extremes to prevent one of the residents; the beautiful and eternal optimist Clara (Etura), from experiencing true happiness and in the process develops an apparent obsession with her. As concierge, he has access to all the flats, and César uses this power to destroy Clara’s happiness without her knowing, when she is asleep.
Firstly, I feel it is important to state that though the marketing says everywhere ‘from the director of [Rec]’, and I understand why, this is nothing like [Rec]. I personally thought that [Rec] was an excellent film, and despite being an addition to an over exhausted genre, at the time it brought something new to it. Sleep Tight is however, though a ‘horror’ by genre, much more subtle and psychological. For me, this it to its credit and what is produced is a master class in psychological horror. It is very hard to describe the plot to Sleep Tight without giving too much away about the developments in the plot, as it are these constant developments that are central to the psychological and emotional impact of the narrative. I also feel it is important to say that from what I described in the plot that it is not a film that is brutal or horrific just for the sake of it, or is torture porn. Sleep Tight is a far more intelligent film that in fact has very little blood or gore, and the horror lies simply in the atmosphere, psychology and emotional impact of described plot developments.
I personally found that one of the shocking aspects of this film was the personal revelations that our revealed about our own sub conscience. César commits some quite despicable acts that any moral human being would never consider doing; however we do feel sympathy and understanding towards the protagonist. We almost feel a part of his actions due to how the story is told from his point of view and when there is a risk of him getting caught I genuinely felt nervous, despite the fact he should obviously be in prison for what he is doing. I am of course only speaking for myself here, and the viewing experience of this film and emotional reaction to what goes on within the narrative may differ between viewers. I was however relieved to read that other reviewers have said similar things. Our emotional sympathy for the protagonist is most definitely partly down to Luis Tosar’s magnetic performance as César. He strikes up feelings of fear and disgust, yet also evokes sympathy, in a similar way to his stunning performance in the excellent Cell 211 (Daniel Monzón, 2009).
Sleep Tight is a film consisting of some deeply unforgettable moments that stay with us for a while. The feelings we often get from these moments may not be good ones, but it is due to the expertly crafted psychological horror with images that are often only described that lies in what makes Sleep Tight such a deeply effecting experience. Many horror films tend to have farfetched concepts which take away some of the effectiveness, however what happens within the narrative of Sleep Tight is perfectly believable and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that this can happen to anyone, possibly without us even knowing. The shocks never get boring, leaving to an extremely compelling experience, leading all the way up to unforgettable ending that will haunt for days. Also adding to the horror is the extremely effective juxtaposition of there always being bright sunshine outside and having an up-tempo swing soundtrack, despite what is happening within the narrative leaving an extremely disconcerting feeling even during the day when everyone is supposed to be safe.
One criticism is that some of the few things that César does without getting noticed are perhaps a little unbelievable. However, maybe I thought this because I know he is there. If you are not aware of his presence then maybe you indeed would be less likely to notice.
Proving that less can indeed be more; Sleep Tight is vastly more effective and genuinely haunting than any big budget horror film that Hollywood tends to produce these days. With some unforgettable moments, Sleep Tight is genuinely guaranteed to haunt your sub conscience for days.