Director – Rodney Ascher
Cast – Siegfried Peters, Stephen Michael Joseph
Release Year – 2015
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Rodney Ascher (Room 237, The ABCs of Death 2) returns to the horror documentary scene with The Nightmare. Here he delves into the terrifying condition that plagues thousands around the world – sleep paralysis. Eight individuals agree to tell their stories about the phenomena, and Ascher vividly recreates their living nightmares for us to see.
The film begins with introduction from each of the participants, giving us insight into the different experiences they had. I was glad to see that while there are some similarities, no two are exactly the same. Some paralysis episodes are downright scary, while others are just weird (and not scary). After 25 minutes of introduction, the story is broken into chapters. Each chapter will tackle a different subject regarding sleep paralysis, such as when they realized what they were experiencing is sleep paralysis, what their doctors said to do about it, when it started, how they fought it, and if it followed them throughout life.
Ascher’s direction is fair. I watched this before bed and it had me wondering if I would suffer sleep paralysis :knock on wood: after viewing the film. I admit that was a spooky feeling. While I have not personally suffered the condition, those I know who do suffer from it said the shadow people recreations were spot-on. Personally, I thought the recreations were creepy enough, but they did feel a bit cheap. It’s a documentary, but it doesn’t go very in depth on the subject. It’s just people telling their stories. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but because Ascher didn’t delve too much into the science behind it I believe he should have been more liberal/dramatic with the recreations – for better scares.
Overall, The Nightmare is a mostly-positive film that has some good creep factor, but it will depend highly on the viewer. I personally wanted it to be scarier, whereas I am sure there are others who found it terrifying. It’s best you just see for yourself.