Written and directed by Gavin Williams
Sleepworking first grabbed my attention from the scientific commercial-like trailer. It was slick and suggested a creepy, underlying plot that I couldn’t wait to discover and sink my teeth into. It did not disappoint. The opening few minutes replays the scenes from the trailer, an expanded introduction to the hows and whys of ‘sleepworking’ and how it can be beneficial to both organisations and the sleepworking employees. The film then moves into reality, where a group of sleepworkers are awaking from their labourous slumber. We meet Alice, a woman who appears to undergo the process to earn more money for herself and her daughter. She meets Henry, a newbie to the world of sleepworking and together they discover that something isn’t quite right with the whole scheme. They find themselves waking up in odd places, unable to remember what they were doing, and so they decide to find out once and for all.
Despite being an independent film made on a budget of £9000, the visuals and technology portrayed in this short film are breathtaking. The film is set a few years from now, but with our current technology very much updating rapidly, some of the devices used in Sleepworking could feasibly be available in the near future. This realism allows the film to be grounded in a believable reality, rather than some fantasised version. Everything about Sleepworking feels real, like it could happen to us all, and one of the scariest parts of the film is that this could indeed become our reality.
Catherine MacCabe stars as Alice, the naive main character of Sleepworking who always seems to have a wistful look in her eye. Her determination to find the truth is spurred on by Henry, a debut performance by Stephen Gregory. Stephen has an innocent charm about him in the role of Henry and both he and Catherine have an endearing chemistry when together onscreen. Jacqueline Phillips plays Dr Kate Feathers, the ‘pioneering neurobiologist’ who conceives the whole concept of Sleepworking and oversees the entire programme. Jacqueline is perfect to play the woman in charge, with a strong persona backed by an authorative aura that means even a simple look will have you standing to attention. The extras in the film also deserve credit for their part in making this short film such a success. Each actor brings what is needed to their role to make this film complete with conviction.
Oozing stellar performances and a thought-provoking plot that will make you use those little grey cells, Sleepworking is an absolute treat to watch. The atmospheric camera angles and visuals, from the lighting to the props, are superb and have an expensive sheen to them that could make a million dollar budget film blush.
With Sleepworking chosen to screen at the SFF-Rated Athens, the International Sci-Fi & Fantasy Film Festival of Athens, and Screamfest LA in America, the film looks set to take the global film festival by storm. Rightly deserved, this film has lots to offer the viewer and even raises questions long after the credits have rolled. This exciting film has put the name Gavin Williams on my radar and I shall be keen to see what other cinematic visions he pulls out of the bag. Remember that name for I have no doubt you will be seeing much more of Gavin Williams in the future.