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Slumber Review

Slumber is a 2017 horror film about a sleep doctor who tries to protect a family from a demon that feeds on people in their nightmares.

So far this year, one of the most predominate fears in horror movies has been plain old sleep, with sleep paralysis being the kicker for a number of titles to see release. It’s an easy target for sure, with many classic films using nightmares as a sort of gateway to let the monsters in. Now comes Jonathan HopkinsSlumber, a very purposeful movie that wastes no time on nuance or subtlety, deciding to go all in with the seen-that-done-that’s, delivering a well-made but all too familiar story without much to separate it from the rest.

Alice Arnold (Maggie Q) is a sleep doctor practicing at a rather large sleep center, who works with patients having trouble getting their 8 hours. Most seem to be suffering from night terrors and sleep paralysis, a phenomenon that makes its victims feel like they can’t move as a demon lingers in the room. One day, the Morgan family comes seeking help, the whole lot of them, including mother, father, and two young children, find themselves sleepwalking in terror. The son, Daniel (Lucas Bond) is most fearful, desperate not to have ‘it’ come back. Alice sets about trying to solve the mystery, but is also dealing with her own family history, that of when she was young and her brother suffered from the same problem, talking to a shadowy figure in the dark that eventually sees the boy tumble out a second story window to his death. Are the Morgan’s haunted by the same creature?

It’s hard to blame Slumber for its lack of innovation. There’s not many in the genre that tend to do so, relying on a tried and true list of workable scares that have become conventional horror movie frights for decades. Hopkins, in his feature length directorial debut, is clearly a student of such (and a fan of Tobe Hooper), and admittedly, does a good job with most, putting together a collection of solid ‘scary’ moments that while not at all original, at least accomplish what’s intended. From creepy hallucinations in the mirror, to stringy-armed figures in the dark, to a protagonist haunted by their past, to children in danger, this is a movie packed with cliché. Embracing that, Hopkins commits to the formula and if you’re willing to do the same, there’s enough here to entertain.

A lot of that falls on Q’s shoulders, who does good work, considering the limitations of the character. She’s always been a compelling actress and she remains so here, even as she is pigeon-holed into a predictable pocket. Hopkins, who co-wrote the script, has a story to tell and isn’t too concerned with anything that identifies these people beyond what shapes their immediate personalities. Each has a very specific task with the premise spiraling around a demon called the Night Hag, an ancient spectre that attacks children in that moment between wake and sleep. It’s paint by numbers, sure, but at least Hopkins is good as coloring inside the lines.

The bigger problem is the large cast, with secondary characters that get lost in the shuffle or add little to the weight of it, including Alice’s husband and daughter, who has her own sleep issues, a night janitor at the sleep center and his elderly grandfather tormented by a visit from the Night Hag when he was child, and a colleague of Alice who eyes her with suspecting curiosity. There’s just isn’t room enough for them all in a story that really ought to have been centered wholly on Alice.

Either way, Slumber has a lot of ambition and while there’s a few awkward performances, manages to keep itself afloat with enough good moments to make it worthwhile, with Q the best reason why. It’s just not anything you haven’t seen before.

Slumber Review

Movie description: Slumber is a 2017 horror film about a sleep doctor who tries to protect a family from a demon that feeds on people in their nightmares.

Director(s): Jonathan Hopkins

Actor(s): Honor Kneafsey, Maggie Q, Sylvester McCoy

Genre: Horror

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