This documentary about sleep paralysis could have done with a bit more science
This (horror-)documentary is about sleep paralysis, a phenomenon in which a person either during falling asleep or awakening, temporarily experiences an inability to move, speak, or react. A transitional state between wakefulness and sleep, characterized by muscle weakness, often accompanied by terrifying hallucinations and physical experiences. It's been a recognized part of human experience for centuries, but sleep scientists are only just beginning to understand the condition.
'Room 237' director Rodney Ascher's documentary largely eschews hard science to focus on the emotional and psychological toll. He interviews eight sufferers whose lives have been upended by repeated bouts of nocturnal panic and vivid, inescapable hallucinations.
'The Nightmare' wants to be the first properly scary documentary, employing time-honored horror movie techniques in a concerted effort to spook the viewer. But it's here that Ascher slightly oversteps himself. While there is a well-maintained sense of lurking discomfort, the gotcha scenes feel a little cheap. In the end, a straight doc might have been more rewarding, but it entertained nevertheless.
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