Review: ‘Don’t Sleep’ Does Very Little To Keep You Awake

Don’t Sleep begins exactly as one would expect – with a dream sequence. Zach (Dash Williams) is clearly in distress and in the middle of a nightmare. We come to find out that Zach, a young boy who suffers from chronic nightmares, has been avoiding sleep due to these recurring dreams. In these nightmares he is haunted by another little boy who happens to look eerily similar to him. Zach believes that this little boy may be coming for his soul. Zach’s mom doesn’t know what to do to solve these nightmares, and ends up taking Zach to a Psychiatrist (Cary Elwes) who doesn’t prove to be too helpful. The next night Zach is back in bed, suffering from another nightmare. When his mother comes to his room, he speaks in the typical movie demon voice. Insert a black screen with a Nietzche quote about demons and off we go!

The bulk of the film takes place 13 years after the opening few scenes. Zach (Dominic Sherwood) and his girlfriend Shawn (Charlbi Dean Kriek) are moving in together and are looking for the perfect place. They are shown a house that is on the market by its owners – Jo (Drea de Matteo) and Vincent (Alex Carter) Morino. Shawn tells Zach that the house is perfect and she feels safe there – so we know that there is no way she will be safe there. They end up moving in and shortly after that, the trouble begins.

From the get-go, there are weird interactions and strange behaviors seen by the neighbors and Zach himself. One of the first nights in the new neighborhood, Vincent’s father Mr. Morino (Alex Rocco) stands in the middle of the street just starring at Zach and Shawn’s house. Why? No one really knows. My best guess is he felt some negative energy or an ominous presence, or is being possessed himself, or is just simply kooky. Shawn starts noticing weird things like the bedroom closet door being ajar even though she remembers closing it. Before you know it, things go from bad to before as Zach starts seeing the little boy from his dreams in a hooded sweatshirt popping up and strange images flashing in front of him. As time passes, this little hooded menace causes more and more trouble throughout the neighborhood.

Horror movies aren’t typically known for deep plots and complex character development. That doesn’t mean they don’t feature them at all, unless of course you’re talking about Don’t Sleep which does indeed lack any legitimate scares, plot, or character development. Rick Bieber – whose fingerprints are all over this movie as he wrote, directed, and produced it – has created a jumbled mess. Don’t Sleep does not have any redeemable qualities and the movie just spirals out of control as it progresses. The concept is convoluted and it is never really clear what the hell is going on or why. This all leads to an ending that somehow manages to be even more of a disappointment than everything that preceded it. Steer clear of Don’t Sleep, trust me – it’s a nightmare.

Rating: 1 out of 5