I’m coming at you with a new Halloween horror movie review! This one is a bit different though because The Nightmare is a horror documentary.
The Nightmare is an indie horror documentary about sleep paralysis. The film is directed by Rodney Ascher, who also directed Room 237.
Documentary reviews are a bit different than a typical movie analysis because it’s harder to interpret a nonfiction piece of work. It’s still a work of art from another’s perspective, so there is still some stuff to dig into. Plus, Ascher edited it, so he could make it say essentially whatever he wanted.
The gist of the film is that some people suffer from sleep paralysis, and that makes it to where they can see and feel things differently than other people. They claim to be in an altered state of reality. Some people claim that they see demons, spirits, shadowpeople, or even aliens.
The way Ascher presents the material makes it not seem so crazy. It’s a scary documentary because of how it is shot. The way Ascher directs makes for it to feel like its a just horror movie. It’s almost an anthology in the way it is shown because of how it gives each person’s individual story in a secluded format. The directing also capitalizes on both kinds of horror films. First, there is the style of the big jump scare to induce fear. The reenactments do a good job of using this sometimes. The second style of horror filming is when the direction uses a sense of dread to induce fear. The thing you are scared of is coming for you but you can’t do anything to stop it. That is where is biggest fear comes from in sleep paralysis: The inability to act.
Each story is it’s own terrifying short story. The scariest part is that the sleep paralysis is recurring. The film suggests that sleep paralysis can be spread to other people. Kind of like a disease. The way it is spread is simply by telling someone else about it. That just goes to show the power of suggestion. Some people claim to not have anything like this happen to them until someone else explains, in detail, everything that they experience. This implication makes the movie shoot fear down the viewers spine because the viewer is getting a real deep look at it. So, if you’re watching it, that means that you are getting the deep look at sleep paralysis and maybe that means you’re next to catch the disease.
There is also more to the film. There is the general concept that implied that because this is a horror documentary. Because it is a documentary, we get to think that the scariest things in the world are real. But if that is the case, and sleep paralysis is one of the biggest fear inducing states because of the hallucinations, then, at the same, the scariest part of life is what isn’t real.
There are two of the most terrifying things about the film. Both aspects are fueled by that inability to act too. If the scariest thing in the world is what is in your head, then the inability to act makes that even more terrifying. At the same time, the literal inability to act makes it the scariest thing ever because it’s also happening to you and you can’t stop it. It is literally happening, but at the same time it is in your head. You can’t do anything to stop it. The whole concept of sleep paralysis is the scariest thing ever.
That’s about all I can offer for this film. It’s harder to do a real analysis on a nonfiction work because it is typically done as an analysis itself. It leaves considerable less material to be interpreted or analyzed. Nonetheless, I recommend the movie and feel it fits the Halloween theme perfect.