Sleep Tight (Mientras Duermes)
Dark Spanish thriller featuring a wonderful, creepy central performance from Luis Tosar
Over the last few years horror fans have been turning to Europe, and in particular Spain, for fresh innovative cinema. And while Sleep Tight is more a dark thriller than a straight horror it inhabits some pretty creepy, twisted territory, and is directed by Jaume Balagueró who gave us the superior found footage zombie movie [Rec].
To be honest the less you know about Sleep Tight the better. Seriously, stop reading now, as the opening scene nicely throws you off the scent and the reality of the situation is cleverly unveiled through the first act. It’s more restrained than [Rec] but -- like his entry in the 6 Films to Keep You Awake series ‘To Let’ - Sleep Tight shares the same setting, an apartment block, bringing the horror into your home. And that invasion of your own personal, private space is at the core of Sleep Tight. Following the life of concierge Cesar (Luis Tosar) and his obsession with one of the tenets, Clara (Marta Etura). He’s infiltrated her life without her knowledge, hiding in her apartment every night, writing her letters and sending threatening texts. It’s an insidious reign of domestic terror that only escalates.
It’s wonderfully played by Tosar: he’s the lynchpin of the movie, investing the character with a spine-chilling believability, he genuinely feels he’s justified in his actions. Via his confessionals to his infirm elderly mother (Margarita Roset), you learn more about his motivations and feel a vague sympathy for him despite his behaviour. There’s a particularly clever, particularly tense scene where you realise you are rooting for completely the wrong person. Etura brings just the right level of vivacious life to her role so you genuinely care about her plight, while Iris Almeida Molina adds some much needed black humour as a feisty mercenary kid who discovers Cesar’s secret.
Other films have covered the same stalker/voyeur subject matter - most recently Hammer’s The Resident alongside One Hour Photo, Peeping Tom and the much over looked Crawlspace (starring Klaus Kinski) -- but Sleep Tight is perhaps the most scarily realistic. Balagueró balances the suspense almost perfectly but adds enough humanity to all his characters to make this a sad tragic thriller that will get under your skin and keep you hooked until the final cruel dénouement.