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Sleepwalker Review

Sleepwalker is a 2017 thriller about a young woman troubled by bouts of sleepwalking who goes to her university sleep research center for help.

What goes on while we are asleep has practically become a sub-genre all its own in movies, from horror to thrillers, the ethereal lucidity casting all kinds of possibilities for filmmakers to build some clever and often horrifying stories. There’s been a rash of sleep paralysis films recently and of course, some good, some not so much, and dreams have been the playground for monsters since time immemorial. Now comes Elliott Lester‘s dark and moody Sleepwalker, a chilling, clever mystery that not so much explores the dreams of its haunted main character, but the impact they have, not just on her, but others all around her.

University graduate student Sarah Foster (Ahna O’Reilly) is battling a troubling bout of sleepwalking, one time even being found in the streets in the middle of the night by cops. She is dealing with a sudden and tragic loss and so comes to get help at a prestigious sleep clinic at her university, where she meets Dr. Scott White (Richard Armitage), the program’s director. He promises to take good care of her, and after her first night being monitored, she wakes feeling very refreshed, claiming she had no dreams and no walking episodes, something the staff seems to confirm. However, as she begins her day, small things seem out of place, and when one of her professors calls her Sarah Wells, she is confused, soon learning that this new last name is now her real identity. And it only gets stranger from there when she begins getting cryptic phone calls and is stalked by a figure (Haley Joel Osment) in the dark.

I’ve always been drawn to movies that can keep me legitimately asking whether what I’m seeing is real or fantasy, especially if that means I have to try and keep up with a smart brain twister. Sleepwalkers has plenty of tricks up it’s sleeve to keep anyone guessing, and it becomes a constant game of which is the truth and which is not, and even when you think you might have it all figured out, you most definitely do not. That Lester is able to sustain that curiosity as long as he does is one thing, that it remains compelling throughout with all sorts of bends in the road is really what makes this as good as it is. It might not have the action momentum perhaps some expect from the genre, but that doesn’t leave this with any less impact.

O’Reilly’s really the thing here, keeping Sarah always the most important part of a story that constantly challenges us to consider what we’re being told. Using repetitive imagery, often as alternatives of each other, such as she walking in a flowing white negligee along a darkened street, we are slowly drawn down a path of possibly solutions, and yet the film still finds ways to surprise. It holds together very well, even as some moments don’t quite strike as heavy as they might. There are questions that are meant to be kept up in the air, and it all leads to an unexpected ending that isn’t so much a twist as a sense of relief. This is smart stuff and I’m a sucker for it, convinced and sold on the premise and outcome from the start, simply because it never let me down as I was so sure it would. Who are we when we sleep and what do our dreams say about us? Sleepwalkers pokes at some possibilities while tripping us up with every step we take.

Sleepwalker Review

Movie description: Sleepwalker is a 2017 thriller about a young woman troubled by bouts of sleepwalking who goes to her university sleep research center for help. 

Director(s): Elliott Lester

Actor(s): Richard Armitage, Jake Broder, Matthew Del Negro

Genre: Thriller

  • Our Score
User Rating 4.4 (5 votes)
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