Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Nightmare (USA, 2015)

Nine Things About the Movie "The Nightmare"

 It was hard to write these "Nine Things". I've had sleep paralysis more than once, and my experiences fit right into this movie. It's naturally going to bias my thoughts on the topic, no matter how hard I try to separate them.

So it goes.


Nine Things About the Movie "The Nightmare"

1. I'm not sure if you can call documentaries "scary", but this is the scariest documentary I have ever seen.

2.  It was directed by Rodney Ascher. He's the guy that made "Room 237", the documentary about conspiracy theories behind "The Shining".  I wasn't so impressed with "Room 237", but it was perfect practice for this movie, which also consists of interviews with people who have strange ideas. This movie has people talk about their experiences with a phenomenon usually known as "sleep paralysis", or "night terrors". Then the movie recreates those experiences.

3.  This movie is a great illustration of what sleep paralysis is and what it feels like. You get a good sense of the common universal themes behind the phenomenon, as well as the individual differences.

4.  For people that do have sleep paralysis, this movie should probably come with a trigger warning. Seriously.

5.   The movie sometimes brings up a scientific explanation for what's going on, but that's not really the point. The point of this movie is not to convince people what sleep paralysis actually is. There are no interviews with scientists or spiritual leaders, just regular people. The point of the movie is simply to make the viewer understand what it's like to be in one of these insane episodes.

6.  Ascher does this clever thing where he shows "behind-the-scene" glimpses of the film set sometimes, to remind the viewer that it's all fake - and yet it's all happening.

7. A fascinating segment of the film ties night terrors to horror movies, and suggests that they may come from the same place in the human psyche... and maybe even create a feedback loop.

8. The people interviewed in the film all have their own ideas of what sleep paralysis is, and they all have their own reasons for it. No matter what they think is the cause - biological, psychological, demonic, Jungian, alien abductions, a disease, or something else - you can understand why these people come to the conclusions they do.

9. This is a strange movie. Then again, this is a strange topic. Sleep paralysis is not talked about very much, but it is a very real and psychologically traumatic part of many peoples' lives. And in order to properly capture such an extreme phenomenon, you've got to be willing to go there. This movie is willing to go there.