Slumber (2017) poster

Slumber (2017)


UK/USA. 2017.


Director – Jonathan Hopkins, Screenplay – Richard Hobley & Jonathan Hopkins, Producers – Pascal Degove, James Harris & Mark Lane, Photography – Polly Morgan, Music – Ulas Pakkan, Visual Effects – Naive (Supervisor – Linus Kullman), Special Effects Supervisor – William Todd-Jones, Prosthetics Designer – Dan Martin, Production Design – Caroline Story. Production Company – The Tea Shop & Film Company/Goldcrest Films/Hotwells Productions Limited.


Maggie Q (Alice Arnolds), Sylvester McCoy (Amado), Will Kemp (Tom Arnolds), Kirsten Bush (Sarah Morgan), Sam Troughton (Charlie Morgan), Lucas Bond (Daniel Morgan), Sophie Wiseman (Niamh Arnolds), Honor Kneafsy (Emily Morgan), Vincent Andriano (Cam), William Hope (Malcolm)


In Yorktown, Alice Arnolds is a doctor specialising in sleep disorders. She deals with the Morgan family who come to her in a state of extreme stress. As she observes them, the entire family suffers night terrors, especially the son Daniel who goes into convulsions that cause his bed begins to violently rock. As Alice digs deeper in her efforts to aid them, she faces claims that Daniel is possessed by a demon that seeks to enter through sleep.

Rodney Ascher’s The Nightmare (2015) was a genuinely creepy documentary on the subject of sleep paralysis, one that gets far spookier than most horror films ever do. It laid the groundwork and seemed to open the challenge for some filmmaker to come along and use the theme of sleep paralysis in a horror context. Unfortunately, the films that came after it – the likes of Alp (2016), Be Afraid (2017), The Man in the Shadows (2017) and Mara (2018) – have singularly failed to find that same uncanniness

Slumber was a feature-length film debut for British director Jonathan Hopkins who had previously worked as a commercials director and made several well-received short films. I wanted Jonathan Hopkins to do something interesting with the theme due to the fact that every single one of the above sleep paralysis films had disappointed. You sort of think by sheer number of the films being produced, one of them has to be a good film at some point. Unfortunately, Hopkins delivers everything in terms of a series of bland, superficial shocks, none of which are in the slightest memorable.

Maggie Q and the sleeping Lucas Bond in Slumber (2017)
Maggie Q looks over the sleeping Daniel (Lucas Bond)

In fact, what we eventually get is not even a film about sleep paralysis. The term is mentioned but the film never delves into the phenomenon. All we get is a film about a family being haunted by a sleep demon that possess some people who sleepwalk. As such, it emerges as extremely ordinary. The film even makes an unsubstantiated claim that it is based on a true story, although fails to offer any details about the real-life incident.

In the lead is Maggie Q, who also takes a role as Executive Producer. Maggie Q has always struck me as a capable but unmemorable actress – not to mention she has an unappealing thinness that borders on the anorexic. Sylvester McCoy, the seventh Doctor Who (1963-89, 2005- ), at least gives an eccentric performance that enlivens the later scenes.

Trailer here

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