Director: Jaume Balagueró
Cast: Luis Tosar
Watch Sleep Tight online in the UK: iTunes / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
A man wakes up in bed next to a woman. He brushes his teeth with a purple toothbrush. He leaves the flat, closing the door quietly behind him. He goes downstairs. He changes into his uniform and starts his shift on the apartment block’s front desk. Three hours later, she descends in the lift.
“Good day, Miss Clara. How did you sleep?” he asks.
Freaked out yet? Cesar (the excellent Luis Tosar) is only just getting started. Incapable of being happy, he latches onto the unsuspecting Clara, determined to bring her down to his level. He sneaks into her room while she’s sleeping (the literal translation of the title Mientras Duermes), performing all kinds of nasty nocturnal deeds. Then smiles all the brighter the next morning.
He’s not a nice man. But REC director Jaume Balagueró makes up smile along with him. Clara sleeps on her mattress, unaware of what’s under the bed. Jaume pans down to the floor. The camera stays there, forcing us to share our sorry anti-hero’s warped perspective.
The comic slice of tension reminds you of Hitchcock, but is perhaps closer to the unsettling darkness of Polanski. It also recalls Pedro Almodóvar’s Talk to Her, itself a creepy tale of unconscious obsessions. From its witty choices of music to frantic sequences of hide and seek, Sleep Tight deftly walks its awkward line of suspense and sympathy, admiring Cesar’s ability to avoid detection then shocking us with sick practical jokes.
One scene is perhaps a reveal too far, but extra time in Cesar’s horrible company is nothing to complain about. In Balagueró and Tosar’s hands, he’s an engrossing, spine-chilling protagonist – and easily the creepiest on-screen janitor since Scrubs.