Monday, June 18, 2012

Sleep Tight (2011)

Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)
Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Director: Jaume Balagueró
Starring: Luis Tosar, Marta Etura
Language: Spanish
Duration: 102 min.
Rating: 7.6
An embittered concierge at a Barcelona apartment building, who subsists on the pain of others, goes to great lengths in order to make one happy-go-lucky tenant completely miserable.
Sleep Tight is a film directed by Jaume Balagueró ([REC]), from a screenplay written by Alberto Marini. It premiered at the 2011 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

Taking a break from his highly successful found footage franchise, Balagueró delivers a very inventive and refreshing take on the classic thriller. Set entirely inside a single apartment building, not unlike the [REC] films, Sleep Tight follows building concierge César (Luis Tosar), a deeply bitter man who can only feel contentment when others around him are also unhappy; and makes it his mission to turn perpetually happy resident Clara (Marta Etura), into a miserable wreck.

An odd premise that in the wrong hands could easily turn out into a shoddy comic skit, but Balagueró shows that he is more than a one hit wonder, with some terrifyingly effective directing, a clever screenplay, and an impressive lead turn by Tosar.

Once again it is shot by cinematographer Pablo Rosso, but this time the usual shaky-cam is set aside in exchange for steady pans, crisp images, and a fantastic use of lighting that generates a sinister feel in every shadowy corner. Right from the look and sound of the first moments it feels a bit like another one of those formulaic suspense flicks, but actually it's all a brilliant ploy used to distract the unsuspecting audience while it slowly builds up it's surprises.

The key to make it all work comes from the excellent screenplay, together with the fine performance by lead actor Luis Tosar, who plays his character with a double life so well. Able to put on the cheerful, friendly, and helpful persona during the day; and turning into a creepy psycho at night, with just the right amount of humanity to not only garner sympathy, but also convince us to root for him despite his reprehensible behavior.

I found myself applauding aloud on a few occasions, simply because of the sheer irony and audacity of placing us on the stalker's side. Getting us to even consider the thought of hoping for his sick plans to succeed is really a stroke of genius; because they are some evil and demented acts, yet we still somehow want him to achieve whatever it is he is trying to do. 

Of course it's not perfect. There are some glaring flaws in logic and character, and some very convenient turns of events needed to carry the story to its conclusion, enough to hold it back from being an all-time classic but not quite enough to undermine the film's overall effectiveness.

Spain has really emerged in the last few years as a great source of creepy unsettling genre cinema, and Sleep Tight is a welcome and worthy addition to the ranks.
Bonjour Tristesse
Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)

Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)

Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)

Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)

Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)

Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)

Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)

Sleep Tight • Mientras Duermes (2011)


FrontRoomCinema said...

I have wanted to see this for ages. a 7 ish score from BT means I will love it, as I am not as strict as you!

The Angry Lurker said...

I need to watch this just for ideas to test on my work colleague!

Paul @ Lasso The Movies said...

This sounds like a very interesting movie that I will have to hunt down in order to watch. I have not heard very much about it, but it sounds like a movie that people should be talking about. Thanks again.

Lisa Thatcher said...

Ohhhh... this looks brilliant. I'm not a HUGE fan of horror but I love creepy suspense. This looks great.

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

Whoa, I just rewatched [REC] and watched [REC] 2 yesterday. I'm happy to see Balageuró has genuine directorial talent. Count me in for this one.

d_4 said...

Perfect. The type of flick where you ROOT for the bad guy. I love it when it's effective. Kinda laughable otherwise, but this sounds promising.

365 moviesandsongs365 said...

That girl he is secretly stalking is totally hot! The main character (stalker)
in my mind was unlikeable. The filmmakers attempted to make us feel sorry for
him, by making him sad. I didn't like the way the film developed. Did hold my
attention. An original horror movie is a
rare thing, and I question whether horror is the right term, maybe character study is more fitting.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

It's inventive and that's rare, and it's not a gorefest so I think you would enjoy this.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Haha. You would be an awesome co-worker.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks Paul. Come back and let me know if you do end up watching it.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I think you would probably enjoy watching it then. It's no masterpiece but it's unique enough, and has that creepy factor amped up.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Good timing, and yeah it is good to see he can do more than [REC], even though I greatly enjoy that series too. I'm interested to see how Paco Plaza did on his own with [REC]3

Bonjour Tristesse said...

After further contemplation, I think it's actually less of rooting for the bad buy, and more of a morbid curiosity thing, just hoping he doesn't get caught until we see just what his ultimate plans are going to be.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Indeed she is! I don't think he's likeable either, and that to me is what makes it so astonishing that there are instances where you want him to remain undiscovered. I don't see it as much of a character study, because the film only superficially explores who he is or why he does what he does, the scenes with his mother don't really tell us very much, we're only given enough background to make it halfway credible, and it's really the suspense that is the driving force of the film.

Andy Buckle said...

This is playing at the upcoming Spanish Film Festival, which I will be covering. I will definitely making the time to see this. Thanks for the renewed enthusiasm.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Cool, I think you'll have a good time with this one. Look forward to your review.

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