Directed by Jaume Balaguero
Distributed by Dark Sky Films
Jaume Balaguero has quickly made a name for himself as one of the best horror directors of the past five years. Although he’s been making horror films for over a decade, it was the success of the [REC] series that not only made him a celebrated name among horror fans but helped to reinvigorate the found footage sub-genre, proving that it can still be exciting and original. With Sleep Tight Balaguero proves he can tackle a slow burn, crafting one of the most intense and terrifying films of the year.
Sleep Tight focuses on Cesar, a concierge at a Barcelona apartment building with the unfortunate inability to be a truly happy individual. Driven deeper into despair at the happiness of others, he has become fixated on Clara, a beautiful young professional whose life is the picture of perfection and thus the exact opposite of Cesar’s. Beginning in media res, Cesar employs a number of disturbing methods to bring her down to his level.
The magic of Balaguero’s film is the slow pace at which he crafts Cesar’s madness, a madness not revealed steadily throughout the film. He sneaks into Clara’s apartment at night, spending his time waiting under her bed until she falls asleep, whereupon he knocks her out and begins his nightly ritual of attempting to rob her of her happiness: causing an allergic reaction to her face cream, planting rotten food filled with cockroach eggs to cause an infestation, and sending her anonymous letters, all in an attempt to chip away at her seemingly perfect life. As the stakes get higher, so do the consequences, with Cesar being forced to take extreme measures to ensure he isn’t caught.
Balaguero never fails to instill tension, be it through the glow of Cesar’s eye as he waits silently under Clara’s bed or the tinkling of piano keys as he makes his way through her apartment to carry out his sinister plan. All of this culminates in a gut-punch of an ending that will leave you reeling. In a world dominated by lackluster thrillers that fail to achieve their desired goals, Sleep Tight does this and so much more, with Balaguero turning Alberto Marini’s screenplay into one hell of a scary ride.
The Blu-ray is light on special features, featuring a modicum of deleted scenes and the film’s trailer, but the real standout is the special feature called “Cesar’s World.” In it we’re given an in-depth look at the development of the film from the decision to move the setting from New York to Barcelona to how they managed to create one of the most memorable villains in recent memory. More importantly, however, is the fact that we’re given a startlingly candid look at the development of a film from the rewriting process all the way to the subtle nuances and seemingly minor choices that go into crafting such an incredible film; nothing is done by accident.
I’m not an advocate of blind buys, but Sleep Tight on Blu-ray is one that is definitely worth a look. It will do your collection well.
4 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5