is not a case of class warfare, per se.
A sociopathic doorman is determined to make his upscale residents
miserable simply because he resents their capacity for happiness. It is only fair that he spreads the misery
around a little, isn’t it? He will go to
truly disturbing lengths to torment one pretty young tenant in Jaume
Balagueró’s Sleep Tight (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
retrospect, giving a surly loner like César Manso access to the keys was
probably a mistake. Morbidly obsessed
with the cheerful Clara Blás, one of the few tenants who is always friendly and
polite to him, Manso knows every inch of her flat. Not content with a mere look-see, he has
tampered with items, undermining her health and emotional well-being.
but it gets even more sinister. Each
night he waits under her bed for his victim to drift off. Then he goes to work with his bottle of
chloroform. However, the nasty little
girl living across the hall has seen him sneaking out of Blás’s apartment at
suspicious hours of the morning. The
police are also actively investigating the poisoned-pen letters Manso has been
anonymously sending his victim, but the concierge has his own plans for a really
major hit in Spain, Sleep Tight plays
on viewers’ deep fears and nagging paranoia.
Manso really is a secret nemesis out to destroy his victims out of pure
spite. The fact that he is incapable of
taking pleasure from his actions, makes it even more unsettling. In a way, he is the Dostoyevskian Underground
man, in his darkest, most brutish manifestation. Be that as it may, his role in Sleep is to creep about, acting the
malevolent heavy in Balagueró’s psychological thriller. Best known internationally as the co-director
of the first two [REC] zombie films,
Balagueró eschews the found footage conceit for a moodier suggestive approach
in the Polanski-De Palma tradition.
Tosar is scary intense as Manso. You can
see the gears turning in his head and it is a fearsome sight indeed. Iris Almeida also has moments that nearly
equal him as Manso’s young blackmailer, Ursula.
In the victim role, Marta Etura falls apart quite sympathetically and convincingly,
even though her character really ought to be picking up on the scheming
concierge’s bad vibes.
Pablo Rosso stylishly noir cinematography makes
the apartment building look truly menacing.
Balagueró maintains the ominous vibe, keeping the audience off-balance
and on-edge, even though just about everyone should be much quicker on the
uptake. Though Sleep Tight falls more towards the thriller end of the genre
spectrum than outright horror, it is decidedly dark, but ruthlessly
effective. Recommended for fans of
Spanish horror movies nonetheless, as well as those who appreciate a thriller undaunted
by lurid subject matter, Sleep Tight opens
this Friday (10/26) in New York at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Jaume Balaguero, Psychological Thrillers, Spanish Cinema