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Don't Sleep (2017) - Movie Review

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Don't Sleep - Movie Review

1 star

Awful.  Just awful.  And, truly, it didn’t need to be this way.  Don’t Sleep is, at its core, an intelligent idea for a new horror story.  I won’t and can’t fault writer/director Rick Bieber for being somewhat creative there.  A boy facing the darker aspects of his soul all too soon is usually the beginning and the end of Hollywood’s horror story. 

Must. Save. The. Boy.  But what if we didn’t?  Hmmm. 

We get all of that in an opening dream sequence that has a child named Zach (Dash Williams) wandering around a dank bog where a creepy-looking woman, a nasty-toothed girl with a sack for a face, and his evil twin await.  It’s already too late.  We understand that.

Bieber pushes the story to where it SHOULD get interesting, though.  It doesn’t and his darker side’s sudden awakening falls flat on its non-threatening ass thanks to a laptop that flashes the anguished face of a tortured soul, routine jump scares, and an unfortunately hilarious beating from a pasty-faced, black-hooded ghoul you’ve already seen a million times over in other, more successful, horror flicks. 

Zach (now played by Dominic Sherwood),  “thanks” to the bizarre dismissal of his nightmares by an incompetent therapist (Cary Elwes) and an overly emotional mother (Jill Hennessy), simply doesn’t remember his youth.  Why the hell would he want to?  And so Zach moves on.  Or has he?  That Nietzsche quote that splatters across the screen after the dream sequence opening is a reminder we just didn’t need. 

We already know where this one is headed.  And it’s straight to the bottom of the toilet.

Zach’s studying law and has now moved into a trendy area of town.  He also has a hot new wife, Shawn (Charlbi Dean Kriek), who gets ogled by shadows and other mysterious figures throughout the movie as she undresses.  The fun new neighbors, Jo and Vincent (Drea de Matteo and Alex Carter) who quickly take a protective shine to the couple, are pretty nice, too.  And then there’s Vincent's father, Mr. Marino (Alex Rocco, easily the best part of the movie), who is cool as hell and full of great stories. 

Mr. Marino soon takes his own life, though, and with him goes any chance this flick had at being decent.  The shadows descend and, soon enough, Zach finds himself spiraling out of control.  Or was it always like this?  I mean – and the film asks this – 

Suspense is tossed out the window.  And secondary characters – like the sudden appearance of Zach's childhood friend (Andrew Caldwell) – get saddled with painfully obvious lines and then, as their exposition duties are fulfilled, are routinely killed off.    Mr. Caldwell, after pretending to sip a beer, gets dragged down a hallway.  Boring.

Don’t Sleep creates anything but a steady atmosphere for terror and feels so shortsighted in its genre goals, thanks to rapid-fire edits, lazy jump cuts, and a super-serious tone, that even the casual hound of horror could easily render this production as vacuous and just plain stupid.  Nothing works in this absolute mess of a movie. 

Don’t watch Don’t Sleep.

Don't Sleep - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R.
98 mins
: Rick Bieber
Rick Bieber
Cary Elwes, Drea de Matteo, Dominic Sherwood
: Horror
Some dreams should never be remembered.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Zach, I feel safe here."
Theatrical Distributor:

Official Site:
Release Date:
September 29, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Shawn and Zach are young lovers who move into a guesthouse together on an estate owned by Mr. and Mrs. Marino. When bizarre events begin to occur with increasing danger, Zach slowly remembers a forgotten time in his childhood when he suffered from what appeared to be a severe and violent psychosis –memories erased by a series of electroconvulsive shock treatments administered by his psychiatrist. As the terrors surrounding their lives grow to deadly proportions and innocent people are slaughtered, Zach is forced to question his own sanity and fears for Shawn’s safety. Once the threat of psychotic behavior turns into the possibility of demonic possession, Zach is confronted with a horrific reality he never could before have imagined.

No details available.

Don't Sleep - Movie Review

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