Sleep Tight aka Mientras Duermes (2011)

Home is where the heart is, isn’t it? There is no better feeling than retreating into your own space, whether that is a penthouse apartment or a caravan, home is the embodiment of safety, security, happiness and (my own personal favourite) privacy, where you can shake of the shackles of pretence that weigh you down in the outside world, and just be whatever and whoever you are, without judgement.

What if your home wasn’t safe though, or secure, and unknown to you your precious privacy is a mere myth, created by the expectation that once you lock your doors and windows, you’re in your own personal fortress, impervious to attack?

The home invasion sub genre really has come into its own in recent years, with the remake of Funny Games, Inside, the brutal Hard Candy, and the surprisingly excellent Mother’s Day, the horror industry seems to be realising that the idea of someone violating the barriers between your privacy, rather than the vague intangible dangers that lurk outside your comfort zone, strike a resonant chord with fans, that they just can’t get enough of.

Sleep Tight, sometimes known as Bedtime, is a cautionary tale for anyone who lives in rented accommodation. Caesar is the concierge of Clara’s apartment building and the model employee to the residents. He is polite, helpful, and visits his sick mother regularly in the hospital. Unfortunately, his boss despises him, his mother is repulsed by him, and he creeps into Clara’s room at night, drugging her before climbing into her bed, and leaving without her ever knowing what went on while she slept. This perfect relationship gets very complicated however, when Clara’s actual boyfriend comes to stay with her.

Luis Tolsar is brilliant as the disturbed concierge, insinuating himself into the affections of the residents while doing everything in his power to manipulate their lives. Complex and intriguing, the plot both fascinates the viewer while filling you with revulsion at the same time. Outstanding performances and tantalisingly sparse dialogue, cultivating an atmosphere that is at times unbearably intense, relying on visuals and the imagination of the viewer to create maximum impact.

As psychologically abhorrent horror goes, this Spanish twist on the home invasion creep fest is an absolute masterpiece. There are suspicious similarities to The Resident which though released in the same year, fell short of all expectations and manages to be inferior to Sleep Tight in every way, even with a double Oscar winner in the lead role. Stylish and enigmatic in all the right ways, it leads the viewer down twisted roads, yet leaves you to jump to your own conclusions about Caesar’s spurious motives and background. Unsettling and very uncomfortable to watch, Sleep Tight is by no means a feel good romp, but it is worth every skin crawling second.

This is horror at its very best.

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