Sleep TightFeature Film | Jaume Balagueró By Josh Ralske
A nasty, well-directed thriller undone by a shaky script.
Jaume Balagueró has proven himself a talented genre director with [REC] and [REC]2. At first blush, you would think that he's classing his act up a little with the urban thriller Sleep Tight, but this film turns out to be a nasty piece of work. Sleep Tight is effectively creepy, with some extremely tense moments, and one bravura cat-and-mouse setpiece, but finally, the sloppy plotting of Alberto Marini's script, and its inappropriately lighthearted approach to its antihero's foul deeds are disappointing.When we first see César (Luis Tosar of Even the Rain), the concierge at a luxury apartment building in Barcelona, he's standing on the building's roof, preparing to leap to his death. César describes himself as incapable of happiness. There's only one thing that allows him to go on: seeing the unhappiness of others.
We see him sleeping beside a beautiful tenant, Clara (Marta Etura), but we soon learn that she is unaware that he shares her bed every night. He hides under the bed until she falls asleep, drugs her, and then has his way with her. Clara becomes a special obsession for César because she's just too happy all the time, and she treats him kindly. So César sets about plotting to destroy her life. He sabotages her beauty products, and when that doesn't bring sufficient misery, he plants cockroach eggs throughout her apartment. A bratty neighbor kid (Iris Almeida Molina) finds him out, and blackmails him to keep quiet, but César's plans really start to unravel when Clara's long-distance boyfriend (Alberto San Juan) comes for an unexpected visit.
Tosar is convincingly menacing, and it's all pretty effectively done. Scenes like the one where César gets caught under the bed with the boyfriend over would seem more masterful if the well-executed mechanics weren't in service of such a credulity-straining plot. César is meant to seem a brilliant psychopath, but his success hinges heavily upon the unbelievable mental density of his victims, and the cluelessness of the police, when they're finally called in. Beyond the plotting, there's all that (offscreen) sexual assault, of which the filmmakers seem to take a distinctly "Old World" indulgent view.
Great thrillers often have this tension where we're rooting for the bad guy to get away with it, despite ourselves. Sleep Tight has moments where it approaches that kind of twisted beauty, but in the end, César is too much of a blunt instrument, and the movie around him is too pleased with its own nastiness, to earn our sympathies.
|Sleep Tight Trailer|