Dir:Rodney Ascher (2015)
Room 237, Rodney Ascher‘s kaleidoscopic conspiracy theory film, delved into cinematic obsession in a totally unique way; Using super fan voice overs to dish out various theories on Stanley Kubrick‘s seminal horror film The Shining. It wandered from plausible to plain nutty and was frequently funny; A grasping ridiculous look at how fandom can become stranger than fiction. The Nightmare drops the fun and goes down as one of the creepiest documentaries of recent times, using re-enactments and extensive moodily lit talking heads interviews to portray the real life terror of sleep paralysis.
These eight individuals recount creepily similar stories of waking in the night, unable to move while dark visions hover over their bed; The intense fear which accompanies these episodes is The Nightmare‘s greatest asset, taking the horror film to the documentary. Though Ascher’s second effort is slightly over long it never really ends up reaching for any real answers; There’s no effort made in the gathered interviews to get too deep and, oddly, there’s not a peep from any kind of specialists on the subject at all. Ascher instead goes for tonal horror treating it as a disease, even suggesting at some point that the affliction can be passed on, as it was for one of the poor souls here, simply by learning about it.
The Nightmare is a scary film which looks at something relatively unknown in the cinematic realm. It mixes horror and straight shot documentary with skill and it’s certainly well structured and captured. However, the eight subjects (all listed by their first name and initial) all talk in a similar tone about their experiences and although the amped re-enactments are very effective they too become a little samey, like Ascher is trying to put his audiences in a inducing sleep like trance. Though you may have real trouble sleeping after watching it there isn’t quite enough to grasp on to in the long run, short of Googling this crippling phenomenon and re-watching the oft referenced A Nightmare on Elm Street with geekish glee.