“Sleep No More” is an intense and creative Sci-fi horror flick whose fantastic cinematography and great acting helps elevate it above its shortcomings.
How many of us wish we didn’t have to sleep? One third of our lives, just thrown away. Think of all the possibilities and the things we could accomplish! In the new film Sleep No More, we meet five graduate students in 1986 who feel the same way. They conduct a study to prove the theory that once you’ve passed 200 hours without sleep, you reach a lucidity point and will never need to sleep again.
Sounds simple right?
Well, I’m pretty sure no one has ever stayed awake that long with zero sleep, so the drug they are using must be something that really alters your brain significantly. Not long into the first tests, one of the guinea pigs, I mean human test subjects, has something go horrifically wrong and they lose their study.
When their department at the college is shut down, the team decides to do the test again, on themselves. A clandestine study, during a school break, and no one knows they are there. Great idea? I think not!
Unfortunately, as the hours drag on, the struggle to stay awake intensifies, and they each have their own strange and horrible experiences. Visions from the past cause violent outbursts, the desire to self-harm, and the beginning of terrifying waking nightmares. What started as just an experiment to find a cure for sleep becomes a desperate fight for survival.
Sleep No More is a somewhat unique story, but I felt the influence of many other films in it. Altered States and Flatliners, both from the 1980s, have similar story lines. Even the Nightmare on Elm Street films are in there too, even if it’s in sort of a backwards way, since with Freddy the self-imposed sleep deprivation is to not have dreams at all. Those kids would have wanted to try this drug!
What these films all have in common is the fact that if you mess with your sleep, or your brain waves, nothing good is gonna come of it. In Sleep No More, the difference is that there are creatures that feed on our dreams and fears. If we deprive them, they get pretty pissed off and hungry! Your dreams, if you never sleep, literally become your worst nightmares.
Despite the unfulfilling and slightly confusing finale, I think Sleep No More is a worthy entry into the sleep deprivation horror sub-genre. It’s got tension, great practical SFX, it looks good, and it is bloody enough to satisfy the gore fans. With some supernatural entities thrown in, it’s a well-rounded horror Sci-fi.