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Sleep Tight - Review

Sleep Tight

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JAUME Balagueró’s Sleep Tight is waking proof that you don’t have to pile on the gore to be effective in horror.

Better known as one half of the directing pair behind the [REC] films in Spain, Balagueró has opted to go it alone for this Hitchcockian psychological effort that pits an apparently amiable janitor (Luis Tosar) against an innocent tenant (Marta Etura).

The janitor in question is named César and while seeminly a firm favourite among the apartment’s various tenants, he is a lonely soul who refuses to find happiness. Indeed, such is his misery that he takes perverse joy in making those around him miserable too.

But his current ‘project’, chirpy, beautiful tenant Clara, takes some breaking.

Balagueró’s film contains obvious parallels with Hitchcock’s classics, most notably Psycho, given the similarities between Tosar’s César and Norman Bates and his clever use of camera angles and tension.

But it’s also very much its own beast and while certain to leave a nasty after-taste, it’s designed to leave viewers as unsettled as César’s target. By succeeding in doing so, it merely underlines the film’s ability to get under your skin and is no less impressive for it.

César is a fascinating presence, brought creepily to life by the ever excellent Tosar (of Cell 211, Miami Vice and Mondays In The Sun fame). There are times when you almost want him to get away with his unpleasant games, particularly when aimed at some of the building’s more annoying tenants, while compelling him to find happiness and do the right thing.

But the longer you spend time in his company, the more you come to realise that this is someone beyond life’s pleasures, whose sole purpose is to bring misery. And it makes him a fascinating paradox given how close the leap to brighter things would be.

Etura, meanwhile, is just a sublime presence – a plucky, highly endearing presence who brings the film’s hope and optimism. You’ll root for her, too, particularly once things start to take a really, really dark turn.

But therein lies another of Sleep Tight‘s many strengths: its ability to grip like a vice both in terms of the way it invests you in its characters and wraps you up in its twists and turns.

It’s as fun as it is, ultimately, disturbing and one that lingers in the memory for some time afterwards. It is a cracking thriller that really ought not to be missed.

In Spanish, with subtitles

Certificate: 15
Running time: 101mins
UK Release Date: March 1, 2013