This new French thriller/shocker treads on familiar ground, is a bit predictable but somehow manages to feel fresh and interesting. The few actors on screen do a fantastic job, and the fact pretty much the entire film is filmed at night and the subject matter all add up to an unsettling, if at times obvious tale that has some horrific moments of brief violence. Anne Parillaud plays Sarah, a grieving Mother whose husband has left her after the suicide of their teenage son. A brief look at them as parents show them as normal, if a little over caring and having just moved to the country they are a bit wary of their son going out when he has studying to do. Move forward one year and the tragedy of her son’s suicide is still fresh in Sarah’s mind. She is a nurse who is working many night shifts because she simply cannot sleep. Travelling home from work in the early hours, she is stopped by police and searched as there is a thief who is breaking into houses where the occupants have gone home, or away for the holidays.
As Sarah travels down dark country roads she is suddenly met with a young lad jumping out into the road, she hits him and having left her phone at work, decides to take him home and make sure he is ok. The young lad is called Arthur, and all of a sudden another car appears behind Sarah, comes incredibly close for a while and then overtakes shining a torch into Sarah’s car before speeding off. The French are brilliant at building up suspense and they pull it off really well here as we simply have no idea what is going on and who is to blame. We find out Arthur is in trouble, but why and who is this man intent on doing him harm? Sarah gets home and sexual tension is dripping off every scene, she is has been in limbo for a year just existing and here she has a strange lad in her house on the couch, he has cuts and bruises. Danger looms but for what reason and what does this situation have in store for them both? Clearly excited and in need of something to feel alive again, Sarah seems desperate for something to happen as she goes for a shower and has a good long hard think while touching herself. Arthur seems like a nice lad, and out of nowhere the two share a connection which leads to kissing later on, but the incredibly powerful sexual tension leaves both the characters and the viewers wanting more, will it happen?
The angry man returns in a fit of rage, pounding at Sarah’s doors and breaking his way in, violence and good old Giallo type chases ensue as the man chases the lad around the house and into the surrounding area. Sarah, now feeling responsible for the lad, steps in to help and suddenly the film takes a massive backward step to the events leading up to this point, but from the perspective of the lad and the man. We are lead to believe this could be the lads Father, the man may be the robber going around, the lad may have robbed the man, either way the man is incredibly scary as he says nothing but grunt and scream at Sarah’s house. The reasons for the man’s anger, and the lads involvement are revealed in spectacular fashion, and even though slightly predictable, it makes for some compelling viewing.
In Their Sleep builds up tension and mystery in the brilliant dark of night, with three strong central characters and a tense but predictable plot. A number of scenes will make you jump, and a number of scenes will have you looking away in disgust. There are bad things going on here, and at times this is not pleasant. The film includes two of the most realistic and sickening throat slashing scenes I have ever witnessed, and includes a scene involving a young girl which pushes the boundaries of what is allowed to be shown on screen. The tension levels are masterfully created and delivered, my only concern is the short running time and lack of depth or backstory for any of the characters except for Sarah make the whole thing feel a bit pointless. Don’t get me wrong, the film is very well made with top class acting, but these sorts of films have been done so many times now which sadly makes the plot far too easy to guess. Good as the film is, it doesn’t leave a lasting impression and even the bleak and incredibly dark ending won’t have you remembering the film in a hurry.
[pt-filmtitle]In Their Sleep[/pt-filmtitle]