Ever wonder what it would have been like if Mr. Furley was secretly stalking Janet Or Chrissy on Three’s Company, chloroforming them in the middle of the night so he could sleep with them, leaving them hate mail, and unleashing bugs throughout their apartment? Well, now you can use your imagination and do that thanks to the Spanish horror/thriller Sleep Tight. Directed by Jaume Balaguero (Rec, Rec 2), this flick literally gets under your skin and will make you think twice about that concierge the next time you ask him where the best restaurant is in the area. Sleep Tight might be that movie that will have you closing your eyes at night with a light on, especially if you’re a Spanish woman who likes to dance around in her underwear singing English language songs.
Sleep Tight tells the twisted tale of a concierge named Cesar (Luis Tosar) who is unhappy and needs to see the people around him unhappy as well to balance out his psychotic tendencies. He takes a liking to Clara (Marta Etura) who lives in his building and is the complete opposite of what he is. She’s bubbly, always happy, and for that, Cesar targets her and loathes her at the same time. His obsession is a given, but what isn’t given is a real motive, other than the fact that Cesar just takes pleasure in seeing other people in pain. He relishes at the chance to bring them down to his depressing level.
Cesar has this stalking thing down to a science. Having access to all of the building’s keys, he sneaks into apartments and performs a range of acts including: giving a dog certain food so it gets diarrhea, unleashing a massive amount of cockroaches, and tampering with Clara’s beauty products. And if there’s one thing we know fellas, it’s that you do NOT touch a woman’s beauty products! Cesar lives on the edge though. Can we get back to the cockroaches for a minute? Reminding me of “They’re Creeping Up On You” from Creepshow, this scene literally had me itching and was one of the most effective moments in the movie. Now with most of Cesar’s stalking going down in Clara’s apartment, you literally are waiting for how and when he will get caught. And just when you think that moment is about to happen, you’re thrown a curveball and the game continues.
What sets apart Sleep Tight from other “stalker” films is that the focus is on the stalker, not the person being stalked. You’re in the mind of a psychopath and you follow him for almost every move, much like Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer. Balaguero is a master behind the camera and that just adds to the creepiness, especially when Cesar is hiding under Clara’s bed, watching her with a mini mirror to see when she’s asleep. Luis Tosar (Cesar) nails the role as our misunderstood stalker and his eyebrows deserve praise for the “best caterpillar eyebrows” ever (sorry Scorsese)! Marta Etura (Clara) also is very believable as the happy-go-lucky woman who’s world is about to be turned upside down. Another performance to mention is that of Iris Almeida (Ursula), who plays the little girl who lives in the building, but knows too much. There’s a great scene between her character and Cesar that will definitely have you clawing at your couch.
Sleep Tight is a great study into the mind of a psychopath. You know that Cesar is evil, but you just don’t know how evil until the very end of the movie. Speaking of the ending, don’t go in expecting a knock down drag out finale a la Michael Douglas/Glenn Close. This is a different type of movie, but it definitely will leave you satisfied when it’s all said and done. The performances are great, as well as the music cue of Patti Page’s 1955 hit “Keep Me In Mind”. Used several times throughout the film, it’s basically Cesar’s theme song and because of that, it’s very effective. The DVD/BluRay won’t be out until January 8th, but you can check out Sleep Tight on VOD or in your nearest art house movie theatre now! I highly recommend you do.