A psychological gothic tale of Victorian revenge.
In 2013, The Conjuring was released into theaters. It was a movie about a haunted house that captured the attention of the theater-going audiences. They loved the ghostly tale. But that mainstream horror flick is not the only recent movie that was based upon hauntings and ghosts. Many movies are released every year that are about spirits threatening the people living in a place, or visiting a location.
The 2014 British horror film The Sleeping Room was directed by John Shackleton. It told the story of Blue (Leila Mimmack), an escort in Brighton. She spends the night with many men. Her most recent job has been with a man named Bill (Joseph Beattie). Bill shows her a mutoscope, where Blue watches a video of a hooded man and two women frolicking in a room. Blue then discovers a secret bedroom. Together, these two events release a bunch of ghostly horror which haunts Blue for the remainder of the movie.
The Sleeping Room is not so much about the secret room that Blue and Bill discover in his apartment. Instead, it is about the ghosts and the mysteries around them. Blue and Bill must find out why these ghosts are in the apartment, what it has to do with the room, and how to stop any future violence before their lives are put in danger.
The driving force behind the movie is definitely in the performances of Mimmack and Beattie. They are the two people who are on the screen for the majority of the film and they play the characters who must experience the more outlandish things in the story. If either of their performances were week, the movie would collapse upon itself. They manage to hold their own and keep the movie afloat. Neither of the two actors turns in a bad performance. Instead, they make their characters relatable. As an audience member, you feel for their characters and the dark situation that they find themselves in. The actors make you want the characters to get out alive. That’s as much as you can hope for in a low budget, crowd funded movie. You hope for believable acting. You get it in The Sleeping Room.
A third performance of note is Christopher Adamson, who portrays the main ghostly character. This character is the violent ghost who desires to threaten the lives of the main living characters. There needs to be menace in the performance and Adamson bleeds menace throughout his time in The Sleeping Room. From the moment you see his character in the mutoscope with the bag on his head to the climactic moments of the film, his performance has a threatening nature to it that makes him feel like a real danger. You don’t want to go near that apartment because of his presence there. He is not the only ghost in the apartment, however.
There is another side to the ghosts in the apartment that I have not yet touched upon. Blue discovers that the haunting in Bill’s apartment is connected to her ancestry. Her mother was involved in the horrors that happened there. There is a family history in the apartment. It brings an interesting twist to the haunting, but it also brings in a sort of unbelievable aspect to the story. Sure, you might say that ghosts and stuff are unbelievable. You might say that they aren’t real. But this is a movie set in a world where they do exist. The unbelievable aspect is that she coincidentally happened to stumble upon this haunting, which just so happened to have a connection to her life. Unless some force was trying to bring her to the location, it seems unrealistic that she would come across it in this way. There was a guy looking for an escort and she was given the client. That’s all it was.
Aside from that one moment of unbelievable coincidence, the actions of the characters all seem grounded in a sense of reality. It was pleasing to see the characters doing things that normal people would do in the situation. Their curiosity made them look in the mysterious room. When danger began, they fled. When they went back to remove the danger, they were filled with fear and fumbled some of the finishing moments. One character was too afraid to return to the scene and opted to stay away instead. It was filled with plausible actions that made the movie more enjoyable to watch.
Through the performances and the things that the characters did, I found The Sleeping Room to be a good time. That’s just me though. This movie is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. It is a decently told ghost story that doesn’t indulge in big production flourishes. It looks dirtier, it feels dirtier, and the subject matter is a little dirtier than usual. All around, though, I thought it was a good time while I was watching it