Friday, January 11

Sleep Tight Review

Sleep Tight
Dir: Jaume Balagueró
Starring: Luis Tosar and Marta Etura

Director Jaume Balagueró has been making quality, dread filled horror films for some time now. Most known for co-directing both [REC] and [REC 2], Balagueró is an exceptionally well honed director. His films offer a focus on character and narrative development rather than conventional assisting elements like jump scares and overdone effects, a welcome trait to the horror genre. In 1999, The Nameless introduced Balagueró’s talents to horror fans and he has continued to deliver. With Sleep Tight, a taut and inventive homage to Psycho and Peeping Tom in some regards, Balagueró solidifies himself as a genre force to be reckoned with.

It starts on a Monday with Cesar (Luis Tosar), a swanky apartment complex concierge in Barcelona. Cesar is suffering from depression, in a state of hopelessness severe enough that he contemplates suicide. However, the one thing keeping him somewhat stable, if you can call it that, is his adoringly depraved fascination with Clara (Marta Etura) whom he stalks by sneaking into her apartment, drugging her, and acting out his decadent relationship while she is unconscious.

Balagueró does well to keep the film a slow burning exercise in tension and character development. Cesar is methodical about routine, keeping everything he can within his controlling grasp. The deadpan performance by Luis Tosar, who is accustomed to these dark portrayals, is creepy and surprisngly threatening. Unlike Norman Bates’ motherly manipulation, Cesar seems indulgent in his sinister motivations; he systematically breaks Clara with unrelenting torments of the mind and body. Joy is a foreign emotion for Cesar. His mother, in a near state of catatonia, evokes a minuscule semblance of an emotional reaction from Cesar. However, the authority she holds for controlling Cesar is gone due to her health. It’s intersting to suggest her control, because the way Cesar talks manically to her would advocate a supporter rather than an opposer.

The attention spent with the development of Cesar’s character is expertly crafted. Much of my praise for this film is because of the performance from Tosar. His chilling, while calm, demeanor makes him one of the best villains on film this year. The atmosphere is also well balanced with the apartment complex offering distinct relatability for city dwellers. How upstanding are the people we walk next to on a daily basis? Just because someone wears a uniform of regard doesn’t mean that that embody those same qualities. It’s an interesting insight offered from the film.

However, Sleep Tight is not a flawless film. The final transition of Cesar’s character is rushed; forcefully stripping his character of the subtle nuances of depravity and spiraling him into full tilt psychopath with one act of aggresion. Though it’s not unbelivable, there is such care taken throughout the film with his characters personality traits, the same should have been implemented in his deciding resolution. There is a great final reveal that shadows this minor error, but it’s nontheless still relevant in hindsight.

Sleep Tight is an unsettling film that is made all the more captivating by the lead performance from Luis Tosar as Cesar. The slow, meticulous examination of his motivations is unfortunately rushed in the end, but the process leading up is disturbingly compelling. The Blu-Ray transfer is good, along with the atmospheric soundtrack, though it's a little light on extra features. Jaume Balagueró crafts a film principled on a traditional aspect of horror, mainly that man can be just as terrifying as monster.

Monte’s Rating
4.00 out of 5.00

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