Parasomnia -A sleep disorder in which odd or dangerous events occur that intrude on sleep.
In My Sleep is one of those surprise indie films, with a cast of mostly unknown actors who deliver quality performances. This is a smart thriller that doesn’t go for the cheap scares or the excessive use of blood and gore; it harkens back to the days when thrillers left something to the imagination. Written and directed by newcomer Allen Wolf, In My Sleep has plenty of twists and turns that leaves the viewer wondering who done it.
Marcus Turner (Philip Winchester, Flyboys) suffers from a sleep disorder called parasomnia. During these moments he can do just about anything, but come morning he has no memory of his actions. During one of these fugue-like states, Marcus sleeps with his best friend’s wife, Ann (Kelly Overton, The Ring Two), who is unaware of his condition. When Ann is found stabbed to death days after Marcus wakes up covered in blood, he wonders if he is responsible for her death. Riddled with guilt because of the infidelity and not sure of his part in Ann’s death, Marcus is determined to discover the truth, even if what he finds leads police right to his door.
I didn’t know what to expect from this little known picture but I was pleasantly surprised by the writing and the acting, as well as the many suspenseful moments throughout. Writer/director Wolf cleverly kept the audience in the dark right along with Marcus, never showing us his actions while in one of his parasomniac states; leaving everyone to wonder did he or didn’t he. Winchester gives a solid performance; this guy should be on the verge of super stardom, with his great onscreen presence and the chiseled good looks of someone born to be a leading man. It takes a special actor to pull off such a pivotal role he did not disappoint.
Marcus was good friends with both Ann and husband Justin, played by Australian native Tim Draxl (Swimming Upstream). After Ann’s death, Marcus has to be a supportive friend, all the while keeping secret their indiscretion, as well as his fear that he may have killed her. No simple feat, made even less so when Justin finds out that Ann had tucked away pictures of Marcus in her underwear drawer and asks his good friend if there was any hanky-panky going on between the two. The writers cast just enough doubt on Justin to make you throw him in the suspect pool, along with Marcus’ overly friendly neighbor Becky (Lacey Chabert, Party of Five), who just happens to meet Justin and volunteer to help him throw a surprise birthday party for Marcus, a man she barely knows. Hmm…
There’s a back story in In My Sleep that involves Marcus and his estranged mother (Beth Grant, No Country for Old Men) and an incident that happened when he was a small boy. Marcus is hoping that regaining the memory will help with his current day predicament. His mother is obviously hiding something from him but stubbornly refuses to tell him what it is. Then the film makers do something quite clever, while Marcus is alone in his childhood home he begins recalling a pivotal moment just after his father’s death. Suddenly the front door opens and he watches as his mother and the young Marcus walk through the door in a snap shot from the past that is played out right in front of all of us, as if it were happening in real time. It’s a scene within a scene and one of the most memorable moments from the film. Wolf found a great way to incorporate Marcus’ past with his present in a simple yet creative way; just one more reason why I am mystified that this movie wasn’t a bigger hit.
In My Sleep is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic standard definition widescreen, the audio is in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround. It is a pleasurable viewing experience, with no video or audio issues that will take your attention away from the intensity that is happening on screen.
In My Sleep is an interesting suspense film with high quality acting and a wonderful script that contains enough chills to make me squeal a few times. There were so many twists and turns that I found myself thinking a person was the killer one minute, and then casting my judgment on another just a few short moments later. It is a thinking man’s thriller that doesn’t rely on gory images and sex scenes to make its points. It played on our own twisted imaginations and that made the experience all the more frightening. It’s hard to believe that this is the first film that Allen Wolf has written and directed, he is a talent worth watching out for, and I for one am looking forward to more projects from the mind of the man behind In My Sleep.
Please support this independent film; it is definitely worth your time. NOT GUILTY.
In My Sleep (DVD)
2011, Freestyle Home Entertainment, 104 minutes, PG-13 (2011)
VIDEO: 1.78:1 AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English) SUBTITLES: English (SDH), Spanish
EXTRAS: Commentary, Featurette, Gag Reel ACCOMPLICES: IMDB