Fantastic Fest 2011 Review: Sleep Tight

Posted on October 7, 2011 by Deaditor No Comments

by JC De Leon

If there’s one thing that the team who created the [Rec] franchise has taught us, it’s that they are a cinematic force to be reckoned with. One half of that team — Jaume Balagueró — has managed to craft a film at this year’s Fantastic Fest that is much slower paced, but still deeply scary nonetheless. Sleep Tight is an intense look at the depths one man will go to be close to the woman he loves, whether she knows it or not. Featuring a great performance by the two leads, this has become one of the quiet festival hits of 2011.

César (Luis Tosar) is a concierge in an apartment complex. He lives day to day at the front desk at the service of the building’s tenants, all while being a generally innocuous and friendly individual; the film opens up on a voice-over of his talking about how unhappy he is, though, but he’s giving life an effort and seeking a reason to continue on. Enter Clara (Marta Etura), a stunningly gorgeous woman who lives alone and is quite often in need of various favors that César is more than willing to take time out of his day to assist with. It all seems nice and very much not horror-like until it’s realized that César spends every night sleeping under Clara’s bed before putting her in a state of unconsciousness. His aim is to cause pain, as he is only happy knowing he’s making others miserable.

The atmosphere created here is absolutely brilliant with how it’s able to switch tones from night and day. It’s easy to see how, from the perspective of the tenants, César is harmless, even unnoticeable at times, but the audience is fully aware of his motives. At night, when he’s at his most sinister, the viewer is put in César’s shoes so much so that you’ll find yourself rooting for him when there’s no reason you or anyone should be rooting for this psychopath.

It’s the type of film that will only work if the performances can carry it and Luis Tosar does an amazing job eliciting sympathy from the audience out of a character who deserves no sympathy. Marta Etura as the lovely Clara plays the role of the doe-eyed innocent beautifully. Best of all, the film doesn’t take the easy way out when it comes to her character — as beautiful as she is, she’s never portrayed in a misogynistic light. She’s never “asking for it” by dressing in an arousing manner, or flirting with César unnecessarily. She’s just someone who happens to be a beautiful woman who lives in the wrong apartment.

It didn’t necessarily come out of nowhere because director Jaume Balagueró was half of the team that directed [Rec] (which is among the list of favorites of Fantastic Fest attendees), but this film was a pleasant surprise that may not have necessarily been on everyone’s radar. Backed with great performances from the leads and a truly creepy story, this was one my favorites of the festival and one that I can’t wait to see again.

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