November 10, 2020 Sleepless Beauty (Movie Review)
Are you ready to have your pulse race and your eyes riveted in place? Sleepless Beauty, directed by Pavel Khvaleev (III: The Ritual 2015, Involution 2018 ), delivers this tall order on a silver platter. Mirroring the unfathomable horror depicted in 2004’s Saw, but with a twist, this Russian Psychological Thriller becomes available on VOD/Digital platforms on November 10th before hitting Blu-ray the 17th through Mandala Films.
A movie that will certainly be the source of a few sleepless nights and a temporary state of paranoia, it follows a school teacher named Mila (Polina Davydova: III: The Ritual 2015, Zaklyatye druzya series). Going about her day oblivious to the fact that her every move is under surveillance, she will soon be the sole subject in a bizarre and depraved experiment. Her life as she has known it disappears with the speed of a lightning bolt, and now she finds herself trapped flailing about like a fish out of water on nightmarish terrain.
Emotions of incredulity and horror are invoked and simmer like gravy in a saucepot. A disembodied voice over the loudspeaker gives her direction and ultimatums. Adding to it all, on the other side of the screen, you are in on a little secret, which is that Mila’s horrific tribulations are being broadcast to those who pay for the privilege. You ponder, how could this happen to this poor woman, why is this happening, and what is next? These are the quintessential questions that loom large as the events unveil themselves on screen. In fact, your stress level moves in tandem with Mila’s.
Over the course of her confinement Mila experiences severe sleep deprivation along with a myriad of psychological torture sessions served up by the black-masked man played by Evgeniy Gagarin (III: The Ritual 2015). These sessions cause Mila’s sanity to fray like the edges of a swatch of brocade. Despite the cards she has been dealt, Mila manages to survive. However, with each ordeal she overcomes a chunk of her sanity is chipped away, leaving a void where paranoia and psychoses swoop down like vultures to feed.
A movie that moves at a fast clip, featuring music that creates a mood of suspense and heightened awareness, it is also expertly choreographed with the images onscreen. This in mind, Davydova does a great job of portraying Mila as someone who is relatable to the audience and who is an innocent victim ensnared in a subterranean societal web.
When it is all said and done, you get the sense that this story is not quite over and a sequel is under development. Overall, Sleepless Beauty is certainly no Sleeping Beauty: instead it is a well-pieced together film of realistic fiction. Definitely one to scoop up and add to a Horror aficionado’s collection, Cryptic Rock gives it a 4 out of 5 rating.