Both myself (Jason) and my lovely writer Anna Hanks both saw SLEEP at the respective Toronto International Film Festival and Austin’s Fantastic Fest and we both had some very positive reactions!
ABOUT: A marriage is tested after expectant mother Soo-jin (Jung Yu-mi) awakens one night to the eerie sight of her husband Hyun-su (Lee Sun-kyun) sitting on the end of the bed, forebodingly muttering “someone is inside” before collapsing into a steady snore.
In the days that follow, Hyun-su’s nocturnal behaviour further devolves into increasingly disturbing spells of sleepwalking, and the couple’s once-idyllic relationship begins to deteriorate under the mounting paranoia that Hyun-su might inadvertently hurt himself, Soo-jin, or his unborn child. Their family doctor diagnoses the condition as an extreme case of REM sleep disorder and prescribes medication. However, an encounter with an eccentric shaman sows the seed in Soo-jin’s now fraying psyche that her husband’s transformative symptoms may have a paranormal source.
There’s an old saying that you don’t really know someone until you marry them. Sometimes the red flags that people ignored on the way to the altar come back, now flapping with gusto. Hyun-su (Lee Sun-kyun, recently of PARASITE) and his expectant wife Soo-jin (Jung Yu-mi, recently of TRAIN TO BUSAN) are a recently married couple. She’s an executive, he’s a rising actor. They have framed wedding photos, a cute dog and a nice life, until Hyun-su’s sleepwalking becomes a major issue in their lives.
Soon the sleepwalking goes past small annoyances like eating in the middle of the night, or leaving a door open, where the search for solutions goes into locked bedrooms, restrictive sleeping bags and visits with the local shaman.
Sleep is a film that shows how when things go wrong at home, they can go very very very wrong. The film also touches on the relationships between neighbours, and how much of an impact they can have on both your life and your afterlife.
Written and directed by Jason Yu, SLEEP is currently doing well at the Korean box office.
A delightfully odd South Korean horror story that I think will connect with anyone that has a problem with sleeping, which I feel all of us can connect to in one way or another. SLEEP gets more strange and especially more dark as it progresses by well placed chapters, and the longer it plays the more I was involved. Filmmaker Jason Yu has a lot of fun with this premise and I love how he shows the progress and how it affects both husband and wife. It really impresses in the final act which throws a lot of both classic and modern horror elements making for an overall fascinating experience. I can only imagine the Midnight Madness crowd pulling an all-nighter after getting out of this one.
SLEEP played at both TIFF and Fantastic Fest and will have a release in early 2024. We will update this post when we have more information. For TIFF, Mongrel Media provided a pre-screening link for review.