Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Nightmare - Review

Several sufferers of sleep paralysis recount their experiences with the disorder and the surreal unknown beings that haunt them repeatedly. Documentarian and horror enthusiast Rodney Ascher conducts these interviews and intercuts the harrowing verbal tales with reenactments that may cause you to sprint to the stop button. THE NIGHTMARE is a very effectively unique blend of horror and documentary but its substantial worth may be as fleeting as a dream. I enjoyed how Ascher and even his curious subjects explore how and why these terrible hallucinations happen to them specifically, their various reactions to the phenomenon and how it affects their current and future lifestyle, and how it happens all over the world yet no one has a definitive answer or cure. I also liked that there's even a chapter where the people try to find answers through popular films, most notably A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and INSIDIOUS, allowing Ascher to repeat some of the same visual trickery that made ROOM 237 a delight. Though Ascher does relish the frights he gets to deliver, making each and every scene of night terrors a beautiful-shot ordeal, he also intriguingly chose to routinely reveal the facades of the entire production. The recreations are deliberately done on a big soundstage, the same "shadow men" pop in every similar story (one even literally walks from one set to the next and waits for his cue), and the interview portions often have the crew visible or performing deliberately showy maneuvers. This creative idea does give the viewer a chance for relief from the "boos", while at the same noting how indistinguishable these individual incidents truly are, but this sense of comedic tone does make you ponder why you are sitting through all of this. For example, it very hard to take the film serious or even enjoy it when one segment has a guy talking about how aliens tickled him as a baby and they are shown to be guys in rubber suits. The scares and artifice can only go so far and by the time you move on from THE NIGHTMARE, you realize it doesn't really stay with you at all. That is unless you have your own sleeping issues or let the fear consume you.


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