The Nightmare – 7/10.

The terrifying world of sleep paralysis brought to life.


The Nightmare is a documentary focusing on 8 people’s experience with sleep paralysis. If you are not familiar with this sleep disorder then settle in for a jarring nights reading and do a Google search. Like many others I know from first hand experience that it is truly a horrifying experience.

The Nightmare attempts to showcase sleep paralysis through reconstructions and interviews with those affected. The reconstructions are so vivid and generally well made that The Nightmare is more horror film/documentary than straight up documentary.

The 8 chosen subjects are mostly engaging and interesting and the director Rodney Ascher does a good job in bringing it all together in a somewhat linear fashion but there is a niggling feeling of missed opportunity throughout.

The Nightmare had the potential to be so much more than talking heads and cheap scares. There is very little mention of the fascinating history of sleep paralysis or a scientific explanation offered or analyzed. This leaves The Nightmare like a job half done and at only 90 minutes there was definitely room for a more detailed investigation.

Despite it’s shortcomings it has to be said that while nothing can truly express how upsetting sleep paralysis can be, The Nightmare does a pretty damn good job.

Sweet dreams.

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