Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron, Carlee Ryski, Christopher Heatherington, Tedra Rogers
Written by: Anthony Scott Burns, Daniel Weissenberger
Directed by: Anthony Scott Burns
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 105
Date: 03/12/2021
IMDB

Come True (2021)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Fret Dreams

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The sci-fi/horror tale Come True pays homage to horror masters of the 1980s and earlier, but at the same time, it has confidence and command enough to advance into something fresh, startling, and surprising.

Teen Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone) has run away from home and sleeping on a local playground slide. That, plus her creepy nightmares begin to take a toll, and she can barely stay awake in school. She finds a possible solution when she spots an ad for a university sleep study, giving her someplace to spend the night, and hopefully a cure for her nightmares.

She meets one of the students in charge of the study, Riff (Landon Liboiron), and they're quickly drawn to one another. Even though it could jeopardize the study, Riff informs her that the students are actually watching the volunteers' dreams on video monitors. The purpose is to study a strange, glowing-eyed creature that seems to emerge in separate dreams at about the same time. But the deeper Sarah goes into this journey, the stranger things get.

There are several references to the late George A. Romero in Come True, including a clip of Night of the Living Dead, a character wearing Romero's trademark big black glasses, and a "Romero" t-shirt. The humming, sinister electronic music recalls John Carpenter, and the clinical, gray-green visual tone (and weird costumes) brings to mind David Cronenberg. Yet director and co-writer Anthony Scott Burns — who also provided the cinematography and co-composed the music — has clearly learned from his predecessors.

The screenplay (based on a story by Daniel Weissenberger) has plenty of brain-bending twists that keep burrowing deeper, rather than providing a single shock. The flickering, twitching, black-and-white nightmare images are real beauties, meant to provide a slow, eerie quality rather than spine-tingles. And a long, striking sequence with the monitor hooked up to a sleepwalker becomes ever more breathless as it progresses into the darkness.

However, the real key to Come True is Ms. Stone (of the TV series The Killing) as Sarah; her wispy, punk-rock hair and wide-set, haunted eyes make her seem strangely vulnerable and deeply sympathetic. It's an odd film, often a bit queasy, but quite powerful.

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