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SLEEP TIGHT (MIENTRAS DUERMES) DVD Review

Sleep Tight is a thriller from Spain written by Alberto Marini and directed by Jaume Balagueró, who also directed the horror movie that scared me so much it still sticks with me late a night; [REC], along with it’s sequel [REC] 2.  That alone was enough to get me on-board with seeing this film, but add Luis Tosar to the equation and I’m in.  I was pleasantly surprised by the stunning performance from Marta Etura as Clara and I will be keeping an eye out for her in the future.

Sleep Tight is about the dark relationship between the door man/concierge, Cesar (Luis Tosar) at an apartment building in Barcelona and his tenants.  The film focuses particularly his relationship with Clara, the young, carefree woman in 5B. Cesar is an unhappy man, though he is good at going through the motions of a relatively content person in the presence of others.  The catch to his particular malaise is that he cannot stand others being happy with their own lives around him.  No one in the building seems quite as happy as Clara, to her great misfortune.  Cesar focuses his attention on Clara, invading her apartment as she sleeps, drugging her and violating her space and her body without her ever knowing he was there.  His attempts at terrorizing her become increasingly sinister the more he realizes it won’t be easy to break joyful Clara’s spirit.

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Though the story is similar to that of Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s, The Resident, it is worlds apart from the other film.  Sleep Tight and Balagueró came through and succeeded in making a chilling film that delivers more than it’s fair share of goosebumps.  Instead of crawlspaces and peepholes, Cesar walks right in to the apartment through the front door and when he’s not out in the open, he’s giving new meaning to monsters under the bed.  I can’t tell you how happy I am that I didn’t see this film when I was still a single woman living in an apartment.  Sleep Tight would have guaranteed me quite a few sleepless nights in those days.

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The first thing that struck me about Sleep Tight was the soundtrack and use of upbeat tempo tunes to convey Clara (Marta Etura)’s happy-go lucky nature.  It put me in an unexpected pleasant mood at the outset of the film.  That mood is quickly dashed with the introduction of Cesar’s creepy intrusions into not only Clara’s, but all of the tenants’ and employees’ lives.  Cesar’s mission in life truly is to make sure everyone else is as unhappy as he is.  The most unnerving part of this mission is not only how prepared Cesar is for each terror that he releases upon Clara, but how methodical and calculated he is in his rituals.  He never seems to be concerned of being caught by Clara or anyone else, though there is one person in the building who knows his secret.  One of the neighbors’ young children, a little girl, has seen what Cesar does and extorts him throughout the movie.  This relationship, particularly when she blackmails Cesar into providing her with a dirty movie, adds another layer to the depravity that the man is capable of.  The doorman will do anything to keep from being caught, seemingly more so he can continue his harassment rather than out of fear of punishment.

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The thought of someone who needs others to be miserable along with him is not so far fetched.  I think we have all encountered to bah-humbugers, who seem to be at their worst when we are at our best.  Those who feel the need to counter every positive notion with a negative.  Cesar just has a ready made community and the means to surround himself with the misery he seems to relish.  Even though at moments he seems to enjoy being Clara’s “hero”, the promise of making her miserable is the only thing that can make Cesar happy.  It is a very easy thing to make most people unhappy and disagreeable.  The stock we put in others opinions, the value of objects above people and their feelings, as well as our obsession with everything being “just right” in order for us to be happy seems to be a way to set ourselves up for disappointment, which is what Cesar has always been able to count on before Clara.

As icky as this film left me feeling, it also made me appreciate life a little more, making me want to take Clara’s approach to life.  The little things can’t get you down, it’s just not worth it when life is so short (unless a psycho obsessed with misery happens to be your landlord).  Sleep Tight was expertly executed and made up for everything that was lacking in it’s overdone counterpart.  I knew that Jaume Balagueró wouldn’t let me down and I enjoyed everything he did; beautifully conveying every emotion on the screen and bringing out the most amazing performances from his stellar cast, even adding a nod to Ingmar Bergman at one of the major turning points in the film.  Even when I thought nothing else could shock me, there was one more surprise that made me audibly gasp at it’s revelation.  Job exceptionally well done, brava to everyone involved in this film!

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As for the Extras:

The trailers include some great Dark Sky films:
The Innkeepers, which was an enjoyable flick with one of my favorites, Pat Healy.
My Sucky Teen Romance, by local Austin favorite, Emily Hagins.
Hypothermia which might be a late night watch for me at some point.

Included in the bonus material is “Sleep Tight: Cesar’s World”, which is a refreshing alternative to the director’s commentary over the film and incorporates interviews with the actors, director, writer and producers documenting and laying out the making of the film in great detail.  It is longer than a featurette at over an hour and a half, but well worth it for any cinephile.  You will also find over twelve and a half minutes of deleted scenes to peruse.

Sleep Tight will be released on DVD and Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films and MPI Media Group on January 8, 2013.  Buy it on Amazon.com today!

What is your favorite movie thriller?  Share in the comments!

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The Author

Cat Edison

Cat Edison

Cat is an Austinite once removed with an affinity for film, TV, comics, graphic novels, and really anything she can read or watch. She gets emotionally invested in movie, television and literary characters, to an unhealthy degree. Cat has always had a passion for writing and there is little she loves more. Hopeful cynic and funny lady.