Sleepless Beauty (2020)

A woman finds herself in a downward spiral after being kidnapped in this Russian psychological thriller.

Mila is a young woman who lives an ordinary life. She helps her family out, helping her dad get things pertaining to his job. However, one fateful day, after returning to her apartment, she is confronted by a masked man. She is kidnapped and knocked out. She awakens in an abandoned room and finds a camera. She hears a voice from the PA system. A company known as Recreation has kidnapped her and she is forced to stay awake to please the company.

During her time, Mila is forced into various things such as virtual reality immersion and challenges involving various random strangers.  As Mila’s loved ones begin a search for her, fearing the worst in the process, Mila slowly begins to delve into a downward spiral of madness. Will she be able to break free from the control of Recreation or will it be too late?

This Russian thriller is quite an interesting look at a woman’s attempt to fight to take control of her mind. The story, by Aleksandra Khvaleeva, Evgeniy Gagarin, and Elena Gagarina is an insane mix of action, horror, and sci-fi with some crazy visuals that look like we’re watching a fusion of a Hostel movie and a Dir en grey music video.

Polina Davydova is excellent as Mila, the young woman who becomes this guinea pig in Recreation’s sick experiment. The first few minutes of the film may have a different story, but it is clear that something is planned. However, the villains of the film, who are never seen without being masked or sounded over a PA system, are smart in that they can’t just map out their plan with a trial and error. You can only hope for the best for Mila, as we see her go through literal hell. We learn a bit of a shocking secret about her that sets up the downward spiral into madness.

The shocking part of the film comes in the virtual reality immersion. It teases the viewer with bits here and there. Then, in a shocking pivotal point of the film, during an operation, we see the full viewing of what Mila sees at night. It is a very insane animation sequence that brings to mind something that would be like a Dir en grey music video or even if Takashi Miike did a Junji Ito-style film. The finale does get a bit insane and you only hope Mila can escape and with sound mind.

Sleepless Beauty is a very insane film in a good way as we are part of this journey that changes the mind to a point where it leads to madness. You can only hope for the protagonist as well as one of the most insane animated sequences in a film.

WFG RATING: B

Dread Central presents a UCM One production. Director: Pavel Khvaleev. Producers: Elena Talyanskaya, Georgiy Smirnov, Evgeniya Mustafina, and Frank Ellrich. Writers: Aleksandra Khvaleeva, Evgeniy Gagarin, and Elena Gagarina. Cinematography: Pavel Khvaleev. Editing: Pavel Khvaleev.

Cast: Polina Davydova, Evgeniy Gagarin, Sergey Topkov, Andrey Tereshenko.

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