Sleepless frights.

From looking at a film that’s the stuff nightmares are made of, to a one that looks at nightmares themselves, Rodney Ascher’s The Nightmare suffers the same faults as The Shining-obsessed Room 237 that came before it. Looking in to the fascinating and undeniably frightening nature of sleep paralysis, the documentarian seems to get hung up on one angle (that being the accounts from those that suffer the condition) and goes no further on the matter.

The entire film is crammed with sleep-deprived subjects who tell horror stories of shadow men and accusatory old men threatening people in their sleep, which Ascher does a good job of putting front of the camera, but there’s not a lick of information from an academic figure to shed some light on the matter.

Okay, it’s a very grey area as both Ascher and his interviewees explain after their fear of going to sleep is shrugged off by doctors, but that’s not to say there isn’t one that wouldn’t have a few words to say, surely? That being said some of the interviews do bring the occasional chill, making you wonder why a film hasn’t focused on this that didn’t have a bloke in a striped jumper and a blade-wielding glove.


Like Room 237 before it, Ascher shows that he has a keen eye for interesting subject matter, but fails to see it from more than one angle. The Nightmare is an interesting watch, but quickly starts to feel like deja vu as by the end of it.
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