The Nightmare (2015)

The Nightmare – documentary film review

The Nightmare is a 2015 documentary film which looks at the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, a condition where sufferers wake up  and are unable to move. They remain conscious and aware of what is happening, but they simply can’t move. If that wasn’t bad enough, scary hallucinations often accompany the paralysis with sufferers reporting horrible visions of intruders (gasp!) inside their bedrooms.

Horrible right? Yes. Massively. And whilst I was super excited to watch The Nightmare, I don’t mind admitting I was a tad apprehensive too!

I’ve never suffered from sleep paralysis and I certainly didn’t want The Nightmare to induce it.  The closest I’ve come to this type of thing are the night terrors I suffered as a child and they were bad enough. I’m already a complete scaredy cat when it comes to bedtime (“don’t turn the light off!”) and if I saw an actual demon (I don’t believe in demons) whilst unable to move I. Would. Probably. Die. Well I could certainly never go to bed again anyway.

As ever I didn’t read many reviews of The Nightmare before watching it but I knew a lot of it was made up from interviews with sufferers along with creepy reconstructions of their experiences, a format I usually enjoy.

It started well, jumping straight into interviews and the reconstructions, which were pretty creepy. But as the minutes rolled away and my heart rate stabilised, the demon encounters started to seem a little outlandish and I began to wonder if perhaps this documentary wasn’t a little bit hokey? And by hokey I mean bullshit.


I paused it and looked up some reviews on IMDB (which I should have done before) and my worst fears looked to be confirmed. Many people were likening it to a horror movie rather than a documentary with the same complaints as me. There’s a heavy emphasis on ‘demons’ right from the beginning, whereas as a lot of us were expecting something with more substance. An actual documentary basically. You can’t just have a load of people talking about their nightmares and imply unworldly things exist without any scientific evaluation and call it a documentary.

There’s simply no evidence presented to us, no experts who speak on camera – surely there are professionals in the world who study phenomenons like this, well why weren’t they interviewed? I enjoy believing there’s more to life than meets the eye but a documentary should be fair and where possible, unbiased. It is far more effective when all sides to a story are explored.


As I scrolled further through the reviews (that were now more interesting than what I was supposed to be watching) I spotted something that made my heart sink. This reviewer, also disappointed, had detailed how the The Nightmare goes in a Jesus Saves direction, with sufferers  of sleep paralysis (a medical condition) battling night-time demons with the power of god. Ah. Okay then.

Now this is nothing to do with a dislike of religion or anything like that (though do I thank god for making me an atheist) but for something that markets itself as a factual film, this seemed so cop out and ridiculous that I did something I don’t often do and turned it off.

Perhaps you may get some enjoyment from this on the scares alone, or maybe I was foolish to switch off and the last half hour contains interviews with the world’s top leading doctors on how to battle demons without Buffy. It’s not like me to be so negative about something but partly this was down to disappointment. The Nightmare could have been really, really good! I mean what’s scarier than waking up unable to move? Too bad it went down the cheap and easy route.

About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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47 Responses to The Nightmare (2015)

  1. I think I’ll pass on this one. Sounds kind of okay, but not really. lol

  2. Zoë says:

    Great write up lady! I watched this a few months ago. It started fine, and then it went a weird route, and yes, the Jesus saves thing was just such a cop out. I honestly thought this would be more research-based, case studies, doctors, current suffers, etc. Not the worst way to spend time, but I will not be watching it again. Heck, I don’t even think I spent the time reviewing it because it was meh. Had creepy elements, and could seriously have explored it way better, instead it went on and on and on.

    • emmakwall says:

      Thanks Zoe!! 🙂

      And….exactly! The reconstructions would have been great, if there were accompanied by real host or narrator who was investigating everything but instead it just went on and on and on (like you said!) I love a good documentary and I love all things scary, so this was a definite disappointment 😦

  3. Jay says:

    This sounds so scary!

  4. Akhiz says:

    As someone who has experienced sleep paralysis many times in this life will definitely give it a look…

  5. vinnieh says:

    In case you didn’t get a notification, I nominated you for an award.

  6. The Vern says:

    I’m curious to watch this because this either could be a bad documentary or an awesome narrative. Having it go the whole Jesus route reminded me of a haunted house I once visted, (Also called The Nightmare) They had us sign waivers before we entered and the whole thing at the end was just a recruitment tool to to join their church. Nothing agisnt religion but it was shady how they tried to get people to join

    • emmakwall says:

      To be honest it’s fairly entertaining on scare factor alone but because I had higher expectations it was kind of disappointing.

      I’d give this a watch Verny! It’s on Netflix.

      Odd that you visited a haunted house of the same name haha! Was it creepy? Not as creepy as Tur cult-like sign-in clause!!!

  7. Morgan Mills says:

    Brilliant review Emma! I’m glad you reviewed it too, because I was pretty excited to watch it! I won’t bother now, it sounds stupid!

    • emmakwall says:

      Thanks Morgan!! Very much 🙂

      Oh I feel kind of bad now ha ha, only because you said you were excited to watch it. But yep, unfortunately I can report it’s pretty stupid! Still, apparently it’s on Netflix so no harm checking it out for the sake of it?

  8. vinnieh says:

    Sterling review Emma. Sounds like it started with promise but then lost its edge.

  9. I was also super excited to watch, then ultimately found myself disappointed. So much potential, but again as you’ve already said – there’s nothing concrete. And when it comes to a documentary, isn’t that the point? I wanted to like this, though, felt much the same as you on all fronts.
    Great review, Emma! Cheers

  10. beetleypete says:

    Glad to read your tip-top review before I ever bothered to waste a moment of my life watching this! Thanks for the heads-up, Em! xx

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