Film Review: Don't Sleep

A young couple's dream home proves to be a nightmare in this formulaic horror movie.
Specialty Releases

As a child, Zach Bradford was tormented by terrible nightmares involving fog-shrouded woods, creepy masked people and a malevolent, rat-eating hag. His concerned mother, Cindy (Jill Hennessy), took him to a smug psychiatrist, Dr. Sommers (Cary Elwes), and eventually the night terrors stopped.

Thirteen years later, Zach (Dominic Sherwood) is a law student and is looking to move in with his loving, sensible girlfriend, grammar-school teacher and amateur painter Shawn (Charlbi Dean Kriek). And fortunately for them, older couple Vince and Jo Marino (Alex Carter and Drea de Matteo) are looking to rent the lovely cottage across the street from the home they share with Vince's elderly father, Poppy (Alex Rocco). The Marinos even give them a break on the rent because, well, they hardly use the place and Zach and Shawn are such nice kids. But being nice kids doesn't protect then from the demonic forces that have apparently been following Zach since childhood and decided to start acting up again.

And that really is all there is in terms of plot: Zach and Shawn see some scary things in cowls and Zach becomes (briefly) sexually aggressive, Shawn thinks she sees sweet Mr. Marino's face turn demonic-looking, and Zach's funny fat friend (every horror movie needs one) disappears—but he's given to doing dumb stuff like that, so Zach barely notices. Shawn takes a steamy shower because, well, of course she does. But kudos to the late Alex Rocco, in his last movie role; his gentle portrayal of an old man who lives for his family, his garden and his missing dog packs a genuine performance into a few minutes of screen time and gives the movie a small and much-needed shot of real emotion—the sign of a real pro. While Rocco's contribution isn't worth watching the movie for, he does make every moment count.

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