Maggie Q plays a doctor investigating a family’s terrorizing sleep experiences in Jonathan Hopkins’ horror film.
Anyone who’s gone through an episode of sleep paralysis knows how briefly terrifying it can be. You’re seemingly fully conscious yet totally unable to move your limbs or any other part of your body, with hallucinations frequently involved as well. Fortunately, the creepy phenomenon generally lasts little more than a minute or two. Unfortunately, Slumber, Jonathan Hopkins’ horror film “inspired by real events,” lasts far longer.
Maggie Q (currently seen as a tough FBI agent on ABC’s Designated Survivor) plays the central role of Alice, a doctor specializing in sleep disorders who’s haunted by nightmares related to the sleepwalking death of her younger brother when she was just a child. Among her current patients are the members of a family all suffering from infirmities including sleep paralysis, in which they are terrorized by a malevolent figure known as the “Night Hag.” The youngest boy, Danny (Lucas Bond), proves particularly vulnerable to physical harm during the episodes, although his severe bruises may be being inflicted by his possibly abusive father (Sam Troughton). That theory seems to be borne out when the unconscious father attacks Alice during an overnight sleep study, but bad things continue happening to his family members even after he’s locked up.
Alice, who has her own sleep issues to deal with, eventually comes around to the idea that supernatural forces may be involved. Helping to convince her are the sleep center’s oddball orderly (Vincent Andriano) and his even more bizarrely eccentric grandfather (Sylvester McCoy, chewing the scenery so severely that one fears for his dental health), who have personal experience with the sort of demons who populate nightmares.
Although relatively subdued for much of its running time, Slumber eventually devolves into a lengthy, over-the-top climax that’s both visually and narratively cheesy. It’s a shame that it resorts to such mechanical elements after its low-key buildup, much of it taking place in a sleep-study facility that, while certainly antiseptic, is not likely to induce many viewers to sign up to spend a night in one. The film’s most chilling moments are the comparatively low-key ones, such as when one character desperately tries to prevent her newly wobbly teeth from falling out of her mouth.
Q, who also executive produced, delivers a solid turn in the central role, effectively conveying Alice’s vulnerability as well as her fierce determination to help her patients and also prevent her young daughter from falling victim to the same phenomena she encounters in her professional life. But her efforts, as well as the visually creepy atmospherics permeating the proceedings, are not enough to rescue Slumber from its clichés. “I need to get some sleep,” Q’s character desperately proclaims at one point. That won’t be a problem faced by viewers of this sluggishly paced B-movie shocker.
Production companies: Goldcrest Films, Tea Shop & Film Company
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Cast: Maggie Q, Kristen Bush, Sam Troughton, Will Kemp, William Hope, Sylvester McCoy
Director: Jonathan Hopkins
Screenwriters: Richard Hobley, Jonathan Hopkins
Producers: Mark Lane, James Harris, Pascal Degove
Executive producers: Nick Quested, Maggie Q
Director of photography: Polly Morgan
Production designer: Caroline Story
Editor: Gary Forrester
Costume designer: Jemima Penny
Composer: Ulas Pakkan
Rated R, 84 minutes