Sleep : ‘Fantasia’ Review – A psychological thriller haunted by a never-ending nightmare
Sleep (Schlaf) Movie Review: It is quite a journey leading inside a dream that makes you live inside a nightmare. There is no consciousness of your whereabouts, whether you are in a dream or not. The line is quite blurred as the audience itself is left in a daze finishing the puzzle director Michael Venus has left us to finish.
Sleep is a story about flight attendant Marlene (Sandra Huller) whose comfort of sleep is turned into a nightmare when she starts to have a recurring dream leaving her grasping for her breath. She starts to draw these dreams vividly in her journals. Her daughter Mona (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) takes care of her and asks her to seek help from a professional. However, Marlene doesn’t indulge in her worries and instead takes on a route by visiting the place from her dreams. The place is Sonnenhugel Hotel in Steinbach. Trying to uncover the mystery behind her dreams, Marlene ultimately suffers a complete mental and physical shutdown.
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Co-Written and Directed by Michael Venus, finding her mother in a trauma-induced stupor, Mona sets out to find the reason behind all the happenings in her life. She checks into Sonnenhugel Hotel where she is welcomed by the owner Otto (August Schmolzer) and his wife Lore (Marion Kracht). Laying out the pages from her mother’s drawing, Mona starts to retrace her steps as she starts to see visions of those who have died there. She also starts to feel the connection between her mother’s dreams after falling to sleep, only to realize that the dreams are about a dark past hidden within the village and a trauma shared by three generations of women from her family.
This is the part where everything starts to blur. It feels like we are trying to grasp something that we can see in front of us but still out of our reach. The uncovering of the past threatens Mona’s life where it starts to feel that the nightmare she is in would never end. But when Venus starts to peel the reality of Otto’s dream of making his village and hotel great again, slowly everything starts to make sense. The women are shown in power, trying to wash away the cruel and harrowing past of the founders who have taken their own lives.
Micahel Venus tries to create an atmosphere that reminds you of the Overlook hotel merged with Lynch’s nightmares and the switch between reality and dream on which the director places all his bet. The movie is lead by some exceptional performances, especially from Gro Swantje Kohlhof who plays a daughter on a quest to free her mother from her traumatic state while discovering the reality behind it. August Schmolzer as Otto immerses himself in the character leaving the audience quite polarized.
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Sleep has many elements that should make it a great psychological horror movie but its incoherent structure and puzzling events stop it from being exactly that. This is a movie where you have to pay attention to every part as it is leading you to the whole picture and the satisfaction of its viewing.
SLEEP (SCHALF) TRAILER :
‘SLEEP (Schlaf)’ WAS SCREENED AT THE 2020 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
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DIRECTOR: Michael Venus
WRITER: Thomas Friedrich
CAST: Max Hubacher, Sandra Hueller, Gro Swantje Kohlhof
RUNTIME: 102 MINS
LINKS: FANTASIA, IMDB, ROTTEN TOMATOES