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. jwforeva says:

    I’ve never heard of this, but its disappointing to know that the docu went down the easy scary route. It could have been quite compelling without it. Loving your reviews :))

    • emmakwall says:

      Aww, thank you so much! 🙂 I love your posts also.

      Yes it was a shame. I don’t mind fictional horror (I love fictional horror!) but when watching a documentary, you do expect something a bit more substantial 🙂

      Hope you’re a good day?! 😀

      • jwforeva says:

        After all, that’s what makes a good documentary. The authenticity! Yeah I had a good day!! 😀 You?

        • emmakwall says:

          Definitely! Sorry for late reply 🙂

          Yes I’ve had a nice day thank you, except….it’s now Monday, boo!

          What about you, your weekend? Watch any good movies? 🙂

          • jwforeva says:

            Hey Ems 🙂 Haha yeah I just watched pulp fiction, just posted a review of it 🙂 So good i tell you. Oh and I just created a new twit acc, followed you! I’d figure I wanna get more social and talk film with the community:)
            Yeah the day went pretty well, oh you know just serving my nation haha…it’s monday night were I’m at, gonna watch a movie now!

  2. Mark Hobin says:

    I felt exactly the same way. No hard data, but some effective recreations:

    • emmakwall says:

      I was so disappointed, I didn’t even finish watching it. I was really scared and excited when it began and then the minutes rolled away and I started to realise THIS WAS IT. It wasn’t a documentary at all!!!

      Thanks for your comment 🙂 I’m going to read your review now!

  3. Natasha says:

    Sounds like nope-ville to me *leaves planet*

    Great write up!

  4. This is so disappointing. Especially after that promising premise.😕

  5. table9mutant says:

    Hmm. This sounded so good at first! Sounds like it turned utterly ridiculous at the end. And I’d have found it terrifying if it had been a proper documentary because I suffer from that. Didn’t know it was a real thing – I thought it was just me. It’s awful. I don’t get it often – maybe a few times a year. But it’s scary as shit when it happens. 😦 Nice review, Emma! I won’t bother with this one. 🙂

    • emmakwall says:

      It’s a shame it was so lazily made, I don’t mind a bit of magic and voodoo but not in a documentary and I really thought it would be interesting so it was a massive let down! It reminded me of one those late night ‘our house was haunted’ type programmes, you know? Mildly creepy but mainly OTT and sensationalised with bad acting!

      My boyfriend suffers with it too, it sounds horrible 😦 it would literally be my worst nightmare (no pun intended!) to wake up paralysed like that. I used to suffer from Night Terrors as a kid but that’s the closest I’ve come, thank goodness.

      Thanks!!!!! 😀

  6. Boooo! Sounds lame! I would totally be interested in watching this if it were backed up with research. I’ve heard stories of people who have experienced sleep paralysis and it does sound like the scariest thing ever. It’s a shame this didn’t live up to its potential to be creepy and awesome!

    • emmakwall says:

      I know, I can’t say how disappointed I was, after about 40 minutes the realisation set in that THIS WAS IT! And it got more and more ridiculous, I could have just watched Nightmare on Elm Street, that makes more sense!

      My boyfriend suffers with it occasionally and there’s been times he’s told me the next morning he was actually trying to wake me up for help, but couldn’t more or speak! It sounds hideous. And according to Wiki, the sense of an intruder in the room IS a real part of it, but just not the whole demonic angle.

      It would have been so much scarier if they’d stuck to the facts!! 🙂

  7. I have noticed a lot of creepy independent films trying to squeeze Jesus into the frame,it really narks me off.nice review

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