Tuesday, November 13, 2012

And If You Die Before You Wake

I got so confused halfway through Sleep Tight when I realized that it had the same plot as that Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan movie called The Resident. Was this a remake of that? Was that a remake of this? And what would Jeffrey Dean Morgan making out with Luis Tosar look like anyway? Nevermind that last bit. My point is I read too much about movies I don't watch - I haven't even seen The Resident because I heard it sucked (and, you know, Hilary Swank), but somehow I knew its main conceit, yadda yadda, here we are. 

After a dollop of research I discovered that the two movies actually have nothing to do with each other. Huh. I'd be better primed to speak upon a comparison between them if I'd seen The Resident, let's just stick with the general consensus I heard, which is that it made a giant sucking sound. Which is kind of amazing because here in the the other corner, coming out six or so months later, we have Sleep Tight, which doesn't suck at all. Quite the contrary - it's a tremendously chilling little piece of work. Unsettling and suspenseful, with sequences that that pluck at your nerves like a harpist on trucker speed. This is a movie that would've had Alfred Hitchcock asking for Mommy. 

And all in the service of a monstrous protagonist - the sleight of hand magic that director Jaume Balagueró (he co-directed the first two [REC] films) manages to get us in this asshole's shoes is awe-inspiring. Watching Juan of the Dead (my review) only a few hours later and which failed this sort of test miserably only reminded me that such deft manipulations of audience sympathy as Sleep Tight gets right is not a thing to be admired lightly - this shit takes finesse, and Sleep Tight's got it full up. 

You know how Hitchcock uses the scene of Norman cleaning up Marion's murder in Psycho to get the audience over to his side through the effort of manual labor? Hitch's camera put us right alongside Norman as he scrubs that bathroom down, kind of tediously so - we find ourselves scanning the tiles for splotches of blood, thinking to ourselves, "Oh Norman, don't miss that spot!' And only afterwards when you think about it do you realize, "Good god, what was I thinking?" Sleep Tight is a movie that learned that lesson and uses it masterfully as a tool to plunk us down in the bad guy's shoes time and again, until we find ourselves time and again tense for this guy who we have no right being tense for. He might miss a spot, though!


zyzzyva said...

I sat through the horrid "The Resident" for Lee Pace and damned if he wasn't in it for more than like 5 minutes! Of course that was also split between the beginning and end, so I felt obligated to keep in on. Totally should've just fast forwarded through all the women's-worst-nightmare rape-y stuff in the middle.

Though [spoiler] seeing Pace fall "dead" and bloody out of the wall at the end was pretty amusing...

iggy said...

Yay! That moment he's in with both of them in the apartment and when you think he's about to manage to get out, he goes back!! And you want to yell at him and tell him not to, instead of yelling at the couple and tell them he's there.

It had some awkward moments (the guy who wanted to fire Tosar from the very beginning), but it was a very good movie. No surprise, Luis Tosar is always reliable.

You can see him here in a very different kind of moment, in this video.


I've probably posted that link at TFE at some point, but I know you love a man in a tight suit...

Jason Adams said...

zyzzyva - Dammit now I have to watch TR just to see funny-Lee-corpse!

iggy - that scene is def. the one I was specifically thinking about while writing this. It's a corker! And Luis Tozar is so sexy, gah.

zyzzyva said...

Sadly (?) it's not on Netflix Instant anymore, but if you do come across it, honestly, save yourself and just skip ahead to the end.

Jason Adams said...

I'm pretty sure I have a copy of it buried amongst the endless piles of burned DVDs that are crowing me out of my home, zyzzyva, so no worries - after loving Sleep Tight so much though I'm fascinated to see how The Resident supposedly gets it so wrong, so I imagine I'm gonna suffer myself thru the whole thing at some point. At least I'll know there's a Lee-Pace-corpse-shaped light at the end of the tunnel now. :)