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.