Sleep No More (2018)

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What starts out as a simple medical study turns both violent and mindblowing for these students in this thriller from director Phillip Guzman and writer Jason Murphy.

At a small college, an experiment using a drug called Cogniphan is being done to see how long people can go without sleep. The hypothesis is that after 200 hours of not sleeping, the brain can be wired to start up again, thus the person will not need to sleep again. However, in the case of test subject Carter, he begins to become paranoid and see apparitions, which force him to commit suicide, shocking the team led by Dr. Ella Whatley.

The remaining members of the team, Joe, Frannie, Dale, and Holly, have discovered that Carter had taken another medication prior to his death and thus, the experiment may not be a complete bust. Despite the school board shutting down the study due to Carter’s death, the team learns that no one will be in the school for two weeks. They make a decision that they may or may not soon regret involving the study.

One can view this film as an anti-Flatliners, in which that film revolved around medical students going through near-death experiences. For this film, written by Jason Murphy, a group of medical students attempt to prove that after 200 hours of no sleep, one can start over. However, if you know Flatliners, then you know this is not going to end up pretty and this proves it all the same.

However, what makes this film really good aside from its story is the performances of the cast and the fact that the film is set in the 1980’s, which boasts a soundtrack that is almost as good as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films. Back to the cast, Keli Price is great as Joe, the team’s “leader” who not only agrees with the doctor in charge, but is also having an affair with her and influences his team to go along with the experiment. Brea Grant brings the innocent nerdy look to a tee as Frannie, perhaps the only character in the film who has common sense.

Stephen Ellis’ Dale is seen as a nerd too, but slowly transitions into the world of paranoia when he makes a potentially fatal mistake when he volunteers to be the control variable of the experiment. As for Christine Dwyer, she brings a Brat Pack-era Demi Moore likeness to her performance as Molly, whose secret obsession is revealed as a result of the experiment. Yasmine Aker’s Dr. Whatley seems to be one who not only influences Joe and the team, but with her sporadic appearances, it is clear something just seems strange about her character.

The visual effects are quite a hoot to watch. Reminiscent of another recent indie film, Mara, the apparitions look quite well and there are some shades of gore especially in both the film’s first five minutes and towards the insane finale of the film. They bring a sense of shock value that help make this film even more the worth watching.

Sleep No More is a film that involves well-paced tension, shocks, some 80’s music, and some great performances from the cast. This is a definite winner for director Phillip Guzman.

WFG RATING: A-

RLJE Films presents an Incendiary Features production in association with Arcanum Pictures. Director: Phillip Guzman. Producer: James LaMarr. Writer: Jason Murphy. Cinematography: Philip Roy. Editing: Phillip Guzman.

Cast: Keli Price, Brea Grant, Stephen Ellis, Christine Dwyer, Yasmine Aker, Lukas Gage, James Hoare, Emily Hart.

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