Rapid Eye Movement (2019)

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A radio disc jockey finds himself more than ratings in this thriller from writer/director Peter Bishai.

WZLW afternoon disc jockey Rick Weider is in a complete bind. He has learned that his show is not up for renewal due to his inability to play Top 40 music. In addition, his marriage is crumbling. Learning that his wife has been losing sleep due to her worry, Rick comes up with the craziest idea to help boost his ratings. He decides to break the world record for sleep deprivation, which is currently set at 264 hours. Inspired by the vicious murder of a man with a sign reading “Save the Children”, Rick decides to take the challenge to make money for children afflicted with SMA, or spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that is the number one killer of children.

Rick gets a call for a mysterious man who is surprised to hear Rick has decided to take the challenge. He soon learns the man on the phone is the possible killer of the “Save the Children” victim. Rick proceeds with the stunt by staying in a booth in Times Square to raise money for research. Things start off well at first, but when his first guest, a SMA researcher, is killed by the mysterious man, Rick soon learns that the caller is unhinged and goes as far as threaten to take Rick’s life if he doesn’t break the record. In addition, the killer expects Rick to raise five million dollars by the time he breaks the record. Will Rick be able to survive the record, or will he slowly seep into insanity?

This tense thriller from writer-director Peter Bishai combines a serial killer film with a tense film about the psyche of the human mind. The film really brings a tour de force performance from lead François Arnaud as morning DJ Rick Weider, who decides to do something insane in order to keep his show and it is here that he opts to break the world record for sleep deprivation only to find something more sinister when a mysterious caller, who identifies himself as Browning, forces Rick to not only break the record, but raise five million dollars in a motive involving his daughter.

As Rick, we get to see Rick go from desperation to even more desperation as he not only has his job to worry about, but now his life on top of that. The film’s progression is well-paced as we see Rick having to deal with playing cat-and-mouse with Browning along with dealing with the strange effects and visions he finds himself contending due to his lack of sleep. Rick is clearly someone who is struggling in more ways than one as there are intricate twists and turns that cause him to eventually become delirious, despite the pleas of those who really care about him. There are some unintentional comical moments in the form of a praying mantis talking to him during his delusional periods.

The supporting cast does quite well, including Reiko Aylesworth as his producer Charlene, who tried to be the one to help him on ground level. Chloe Brooks makes the most of her time as Rick’s suffering wife, even offering to “help” him to boost ratings. Comedian Godfrey takes a more serious approach to his role as Marcus, a rival who is set to tell Rick he will replace him on the morning show. Jamie Jackson, much like Charlene, attempts to help Rick in his role of Dr. Falco, a sleep deprivation expert. David Rhodes brings a sense of menace and mind games in the role of the evil Browning, seen either in a hoodie and mask, or disguising himself to mess with Rick.

Rapid Eye Movement is a very tense film that takes the lead’s character psyche and messes with it to a degree while having to force him to play cat-and-mouse with a deadly killer. A tour de force for lead François Arnaud.

WFG RATING: B+

Vertical Entertainment Presents a Rapid Eye Productions film. Director: Peter Bishai. Producers: Peter Bishai, Aaron Craig, Lenny Emery, Gary Kohn, and Frederick Weiss. Writers: Peter Bishai and Brennan Smith. Cinematography: Alex Craig. Editing: Peter Bishai.

Cast: François Arnaud, Reiko Aylesworth, Chloe Brooks, Godfrey, Brian Reddy, Jamie Jackson, Danny Bolero, Stelio Savante, Sarah Taylor, Rebecca Watson, Anna Myrha, Wally Dunn, David Rhodes.

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