Starring Luis Tosar, Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan, Pep Tosar, Petra Martinez
Directed by Jaume Balagueró
Just how much damage can you inflict on people without them even knowing about it? How creepily disturbing can you be while flying under the radar of everyone you are violating? Jaume Balagueró’s new movie Sleep Tight does a great job in answering those questions.
Sleep Tight is a Spanish-language film from Balagueró who is best known for co-directing [REC] and [REC 2], and he delivers a whopper of a movie with this effort. It’s the tale of Cesar, an apartment building concierge who finds himself at a spot in his life where he feels he has nothing to live for, nothing to motivate him, nothing to make him get out of bed in the morning. However, we soon find that Cesar has a few extra-curricular hobbies that seem to be fueling his interests.
During the first five minutes you’ll find yourself staring at the screen going, “Wait a minute…I thought he…oh, what the fuck?!” An early reveal into Cesar’s exploits sets the stage for an invasive experience where we the audience become voyeurs peeping in on a devious plan of deception, intrusion and violation.
One of the real strengths of Sleep Tight is how it hits close to home, especially to those living in urban environments and apartment buildings. It shows just how vulnerable we actually are as we live under our false veil of safety. Sleep Tight shows how useless that lock and deadbolt on our front doors actually are as there are always monsters that can get around even the stoutest of locks, using one method or another. And the main weapon this particular monster uses is trust. The trust that we put in our neighbors and people we see every day becomes this beast’s most effective tool. He menaces his victims at night while he smiles and greets them good day in the morning. A two-faced terror.
Luis Tosar is the brilliant Galician actor who plays Cesar. His creepiness factor is off the charts and we dare you to sit through this entire picture without getting a serious case of the willies from him. Tosar’s Cesar negatively affects every person he comes in contact with. And although he enjoys toying with all the residents of the apartment building, his main target is the lovely Clara (Marta Etura). She is vibrant with an infectious love of life, but something is weighing her down. Something is polluting Clara and sucking the life out of her. And Cesar’s unbelievable plan is revealed to us one layer at a time as the film rolls on. The depths of obsession and lengths a man will go to achieve his goals are disturbingly evident in Sleep Tight.
Balagueró delivers some incredibly intense scenes in this movie. You will love the grip that Sleep Tight wraps around you, drawing viewers in with intriguing characters constantly locked in perilous situations. And isn’t that what quality filmmaking is all about? As this is predominantly a psychological thriller, the F/X are minimal for the majority of the movie. However there are certainly spots where blood flows quite freely and the work done by the artists is excellent. The F/X look amazingly authentic and disturbing, adding a level of realism to this picture that already feels painfully authentic.
Even with the wonderful work of Etura and co-star Alberto San Juan (who is also great as Clara’s boyfriend Marcos), the driving force behind this film is Cesar. An excellent antagonist will prove to be a great asset to any story and Sleep Tight is certainly no different. And perhaps it’s the fact that we don’t see the depths of Cesar’s depravity immediately, that we as viewers are forced to ask “How far will this guy go?”, that makes him such an interesting villain. It isn’t until the film is reaches its climax that we realize just how incredibly cunning and cold-blooded he is.
And if Balagueró hadn’t toyed with us enough throughout Sleep Tight, he saves a big reveal for the very last scene. He delivers a massive ‘Holy shit!’ moment to send audience members away with one last shock. It’s an excellent ending to a great film.
Sleep Tight is a very entertaining experience that is going to hit home for a lot of people. It shows us that locking our doors is not always going to keep the boogeyman out, and sometimes it’s the monster that smiles at you that’s the most dangerous. Filled with sub-stories that add color and even humor to the main tale, Sleep Tight is brilliantly put together and brings viewers on a tense ride following a man literally on the edge with nothing to lose. For fans of unique and disturbing films, this is a must see. Tosar is perfect and Balagueró weaves a slow-burning tale of violation that builds to an incredible climax. Well done.
4 out of 5