The Nightmare Review
Who would have thought that the scariest movie of the year would be a documentary?
Before viewing "The Nightmare," I didn't know much at all about sleep paralysis. I understand now that it is a condition where you are not able to speak or move during sleep or when you initially wake. The idea of not being able to move or speak by itself is kind of terrifying. But if you add bad nightmares and hallucinations to the condition, that is even more horrible. That is what "The Nightmare" is about, it is a reflection from eight different individuals about their experiences with sleep paralysis and how their hallucinations affected them.
The individuals speak in graphic and vivid detail about their experiences, and what makes "The Nightmare" so creepy and terrifying is that what the individuals explain is acted out in front of your eyes. In the creepiest and most disturbing manner possible. Director Rodney Ascher acts out everything the individuals say they saw, and Ascher creates a point-of-view in his shooting of these scenes, as if you are experiencing these moments yourself. Of course, Ascher also milks all of the terror out what these people are saying. These hallucinations really affected the people he interviewed and Ascher almost goes out of his way to make sure you experience the terror of these experiences too. What I wonder is if Ascher had any idea if his movie would end up being the creepiest of the year, easily beating all the worn-down, found footage fair we have unfortunately had to survive this year.
How creepy is "The Nightmare?" There is a scene early in the movie where a woman discusses how she saw a shadow enter her bedroom several times in the night, described as a walking shadow. We literally see this shadow enter the room and slowly make his way to the bed, and when the shadow literally leans into the camera, its as if he is looking into your eyes. We feel the experience this person had, and it terrifies us. Its a creepy scene, brutally surreal in direction. There is a great jump scene including a creepy voice on a phone and one with a spider. There is also a scene that involve smiling aliens with static skin, and those are somehow incredibly disturbing. For a guy who has a particular fondness for the horror genre, it was absolutely amazing how Ascher had these descriptions come alive.
That is created through this is a documentary that is both informative and disturbing, two things I never thought would go hand in hand. Its equally amazing how these people reacted in different ways; some people found religion through the experience and thought their paralysis is linked to demons. Some were able to harness their night terrors and live with them completely. No matter how they ended up from this condition, I learned the hard way that sleep paralysis sounds like the most terrifying thing that could possibly happen to me and I hope I don't somehow develop this condition.
"The Nightmare" is on Netflix. Watch if you dare.
FINAL GRADE: A