|Glasgow Film Festival Review: Sleep Tight|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Tuesday, 19 February 2013 13:44|
Director: Jaume Balagueró
A man wakes up in bed next to a woman. He brushes his teeth with a purple toothbrush. He leaves the flat, closing the door quietly behind him. He goes downstairs. He changes into his uniform and starts his shift on the apartment block’s front desk. Three hours later, she descends in the lift.
"Good day, Miss Clara. How did you sleep?" asks the concierge.
Freaked out yet? Cesar (the excellent Luis Tosar) is only just getting started. Incapable of being happy, he latches onto the unsuspecting Clara, determined to bring her down to his level. He sneaks into her room while she’s sleeping (the literal translation of the title Mientras Duermes), performing all kinds of nasty nocturnal deeds. Then smiles all the brighter the next morning.
He’s not a nice man. But REC director Jaume Balagueró makes up smile along with him. Clara sleeps on her mattress, unaware of what’s under the bed. Jaume pans down to the floor. The camera stays there, forcing us to share our sorry anti-hero’s warped perspective.
Most have compared this unsettling, darkly comic slice of tension to Hitchcock. It’s perhaps closer to Polanski, but also recalls Pedro Almodóvar’s Talk to Her, itself a creepy tale of unconscious obsessions. From its witty choices of music to frantic sequences of hide and seek, Sleep Tight deftly walks its awkward line of suspense and sympathy, admiring Cesar’s ability to avoid detection then shocking us with sick practical jokes.
It could arguably be 20 minutes shorter - one scene is perhaps a reveal too far - but extra time in Cesar’s horrible company is nothing to complain about. In Balagueró and Tosar’s hands, he’s an engrossing, spine-chilling protagonist – and easily the creepiest on-screen janitor since Scrubs.
The result should carry a warning label. DANGER: Will stop you sleeping for days.
(That four star rating? Don't be surprised if that hits five by the end of the year.)