I find myself lost trying to wrap my head around the tension built in Sleep Tight. While the film may lack more than one thrilling action sequence, it doesn’t lack for thrills. We are introduced to a world where a man who cannot feel joy takes some semblance of it by torturing those that have it. A melding of an invasion thriller with a slow building revenge aspect thrown in makes for a short and satisfying film. Jaume Balagueró is best known for co-directing the awesome [Rec] and [Rec] ² horror flicks, and he brings the single setting of a vertical shaft apartment building back into the fold. Whether that was his influence or the writer’s is inconsequential. He knows how to play within these confines, and Sleep Tight benefits from it. Hit the jump for my full review.
César is a loner that takes a keen interest in the lives of the people in the apartment complex he takes care of. However, he has a secret fascination with one tenant in particular: the beautiful Clara. Every night, he sneaks up to her room, waits underneath her bed, drugs her with chloroform, and sleeps next to her. Sometimes he does more than this, but it becomes less about what and more about why. As we learn who he is we also see the results of his actions. His plan isn’t flawless. There is a young tenant across the hall from Clara that starts to blackmail César, which raises the intensity because he is so focused on punishing her that he continues to go about his business as if he isn’t aware.
Sequences are shot through an over the shoulder point of view at times, keeping César in the frame while showing his viewpoint. As he sneaks in and out of Clara’s apartment, he meticulously puts on a happy face for the residents when they wake up and greet him in the lobby. He even opens the elevator gate and apartment doors while delivering the mail and newspaper to each resident. This, of course, is a façade for his true happiness. He leads a grueling, repetitious life save for his mysterious fascination with Clara. While some might want to read into the story, I find it best to sit back and enjoy the story Alberto Marini has created.
Ultimately, this 102 minute thriller is slow building and lacks the action Balagueró might be best known for now. That’s OK for me, because he makes up for it by crafting a chilling film that at times is darkly humorous in César’s nonchalance and disturbing in the ease with which he pulls it off.