Don’t Sleep (2017)

Starring Cary Elwes, Drea De Matteo, Dominic Sherwood

Directed by Rick Bieber

Facing the demons you have when you sleep is enough of a problem, but when they’re just biding their time until you get a little bit older, then unleash their wrath…well, that’s something that even the most daunting forms of therapy can’t fix. In Rick Bieber’s nightmarish thriller, Don’t Sleep, we learn about the troubles that arise when our eyes are closed, and I’m not talking about any burned up guy in a crappy old sweater, either.

The beginning of the film centers on a little boy named Zach, and he’s in the middle of one doozy of a dream – filled with haggish old crones and other images that would be plenty to make a kid crap their pjs, and when he awakes it clear to see that the trauma machine is in full motion, and it’s off to the doc’s office we go. “Help” comes in the person of Dr. Gordon…uhh, I mean Dr. Summers (Cary Elwes – does this guy actually have M.D attached to the end of his name or what), and Zach’s frightening nighttime thoughts are dismissed as quickly as a fart in a wind tunnel – but we all know that something infinitely more chilling is at hand, don’t we? So we press the fast-forward button to those pesky adult years, and Zach is a full-grown man with a beautiful wife (Charlbi Dean Kriek), a gorgeous new home, a kick-ass job, and all the positive reinforcement that people around his inner circle could offer…and the nightmares are simply lying in wait.

The problems with Don’t Sleep lie in the telling of the tale – exactly why is it that this young child had such horrific nightmares – were they the manifestation of an overly creative mind, or was there something more sinister at play? These are the things that somehow got lost in the shuffle, and it was a bit distressing to not get much of an explanation for these issues. This poor child had night terrors that rattled his skull and psyche, and everyone was only to happy to sweep all of it under the rug – pretty demented bunch if you ask me…but then again I don’t get asked much, so yeah. As the film drags on, we get the feeling that innocent ol’ Zach might not be as pure and sweet as everyone thinks, and that throws a bit of a wrench into the works. All in all, this is one of those films that kicks you in the ass off the starting block, then appears to lose its own direction, but tries dragging you in different directions in the hope that everyone will find their way. I’d really had high hopes for this one, but in the end of it all, I probably should have just kept my eyes closed.

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Matt Boiselle

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