Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cary Elwes, Drea de Matteo, Charlbi Dean Kriek, Dominic Sherwood, Jill Hennessy, Andrew Caldwell, Marem Hassler, Alex Rocco, Alex Carter
Written by: Rick Bieber
Directed by: Rick Bieber
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 101
Date: 09/28/2017

Don't Sleep (2017)

1/2 Star (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This cheap-looking, poorly-acted horror movie makes absolutely no sense, and is far more awkward and aggravating than scary; it falls directly into that "what the heck were they thinking?" category.

In Don't Sleep, Zach (Dominic Sherwood) and Shawn (Charlbi Dean Kriek) are a young couple looking to rent their first house, and they find it, just across the street from their new landlords, Vincent (Alex Carter) and Jo Marino (Drea de Matteo). No sooner do they settle in than Shawn begins to have nightmares, of the same type he had when he was a kid.

He re-visits his old therapist (Cary Elwes), but things get worse. He begins to see ghosts during the daytime. Then Vincent's father (Alex Rocco) commits suicide, and Shawn experiences an actual, physical attack. Can he get to the bottom of his nightmares before it's too late?

Don't Sleep opens with a Nietzsche quote that doesn't seem to pertain to anything. Then, the characters' behavior is so weirdly unlike anything human, it could leave viewers unsettled in a way that the movie didn't intend. The main character is supposed to be a law student, but he looks like he spends far more time in a mirror, fixing his floppy hair and 3-day scruff, than studying.

Everyone else constantly acts suspicious and/or guilty, regularly saying oddly inappropriate things, and that includes the main character's mother and best friend. The movie's sound mix leaves quite a bit to be desired, and it employs cheap digital effects and jump-scares, as well as completely illogical red herrings that are rendered null and void when the final reveal happens.

Even the closing credits are weird, with an ill-fitting song and still photos (!) from the movie we just saw! It's a shame that this was the final movie of the late Alex Rocco (Moe Greene in The Godfather); he deserved better.

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