Myths and thrills create a creepy night terror experience. Slumber – movie review

Everybody has been creeped out at least once by a friend or family member who sleepwalked or sleep-talked during the night, awakening us with a real-life jump-scare creepier than the entire Paranormal Craptivity franchise (definition by my friend Jimmy).

Slumber – an American/British movie that will have its wide release only in 2018 – plays with this primal fear and mixes it with ancient Eastern European myths.

Slumber 1Alice (Maggie Q), a doctor specialised in sleep disorders who’s been haunted by nightmares related to the sleepwalking death of her younger brother when she was just a child, is investigating on a family who suffered from the loss of their youngest kid. Mom, dad, brother and sister are dealing with recurrent nightmares who cause them dangerous sleepwalking episodes and terrifying sleep paralysis. Whilst this might depend on them coming to terms with grief and depression, the youngest boy, Danny (Lucas Bond), proves particularly vulnerable to physical harm during the episodes in which he sees a creepy figure lingering on him and preventing him from moving or screaming.

Going into this flick with no anticipation whatsoever – in fact, the very first scene only reinforced my low expectations – Slumber turned out relatively subdued for much of its running time.

Slumber 2Filled with low-key moments and sequences, the movie written and directed by Jonathan Hopkins makes good use of the ‘the less you see, the better’ formula: firstly, the film works as a mystery where it’s tough to separate what’s psychological from what’s supernatural. Then, once the direction of the movie is made clear, the evil entity that’s haunting the family is never evidently shown to the audience, which makes its presence the more threatening and scary.

Yet, the subtlety of tone and vibe in Slumber makes for some chilling sequences, such as when one character desperately tries to prevent her newly wobbly teeth from falling out of her mouth.

Since the director claims the movie is based on real events (which is a laughably stupid tag line of many horror flicks nowadays), he backs up this statement with clever research scenes and by remaining truthful to the universe that the film sets up. You know what? To my surprise and delight, this actually works in Slumber.

For a low budget horror flick, the production values are on par with the story – the camera-work stubbornly refuses to be formulaic and conventional, which gives the movie an extra layer of interest. A few editing choices seem rather ballsy and the overall look and feel of Slumber works as a whole, helped by a great score.

Slumber 3Similarly, the performances are all-around decent, with the two kids and Meggie Q taking the cake in terms of acting.

On the contrary, what doesn’t convince in the film is the first act: the first 30 minutes or so are filled with horror tropes and give the impression of an Insidious wannabe movie, just cheaper and less effective. The payoff might also be disappointing for some, even though I personally didn’t mind it. Yet, the characters haven’t got much to their persona and feel quite hollow – again, with the exception of Alice and the kids.

In conclusion, Slumber is a way better horror movie than I expected and I think you should give it a chance when it’ll get its wide release in 2018. Cheers!