Story: Sleep paralysis. Yeah, I thought it was being trapped in bed. You too? The reality is much worse…because it’s not just the inability to move. It’s the inability to move and seeing terrifying beings coming into your room. This documentary interviews eight people with this condition, letting you inside their terrors.
Scares: A few chills as the real-life interviewees describe what they see during their episodes.
Splat factor: Zero.
Closing scene “shocker”?: Documentary. So, nope.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Original.
Trick or Treat?: When I heard about this documentary, I was immediately intrigued. I’d wanted to know more about sleep paralysis as well as hearing from people suffering from it. Instead, this film goes from a series of stories from these eight people, to more stories from them… And more. And more. The end.
Not that these stories aren’t rough to listen to; one interviewee figures that one day he’ll be having a sleep paralysis episode, and that time, he’ll actually be dead. And he’s okay with that, after all he’s been through during his episodes. That’s a punch in the gut. Plus, hearing about what these people go through, what they see – and having their memories re-enacted – is downright creepy. Especially since they all seem to have similar experiences.
While I honestly feel for these people, the documentary would have been a whole lot better if there’d been a look at the science. Most of the people in this doc either haven’t had in-depth help, or they stumbled upon idiot medical professionals. Talking to a respected professional, and letting that professional discuss possible whys and wherefores, would have given some heft to the film. But director Rodney Ascher decided to keep drawing from the same well, getting his interviewees to keep talking about their terrors, what they think causes them, and why they think they happen…while he films low-grade reenactments of their fears.
Ascher underwhelmed me with Room 237, so it’s no wonder that his newest offering is just as messy and floundering. As with Room 237, The Nightmare has been praised by enough horrorhounds that I decided to give it a watch. My bad. Because The Nightmare has absolutely nothing to say. It feels as if Ascher decided sleep paralysis sounded cool, and then had zero to add to it. Let the people tell their stories, and boom, movie! But if you let people riff on their problems long enough, they eventually get to some strange, tinfoil hat ideas. And that’s exactly what this film devolves into.
Compelling at first, but then turns into more, more, more of the same. Yes, I definitely felt like a horrible person thinking “get to the point of this film already”. But the only thing the director did was roll film and role-play. The people who were interviewed for this doc deserved better.
Score: 1 out of 5 pumpkins.