It begins with an ambassador’s assassination plot and a chat window that informs us of a new method of getting people to do certain things.
Then we see Mila through different cameras, letting us know she has been chosen for the same group of people from the dark web.
She is just like your average girl next door, so we can empathize with her and feel horrified with what is going to happen.
After she gets kidnapped, story develops in a small room, some sort of dirty bathroom, pretty similar to the one in the fist movie of Saw.
Things get narrated by the incessant chat window and their participants.
We find out that all this is the work of an organization called “Recreation”.
A woman’s voice through a very loud speaker tells us the rules, they are quite simple.
The main one is that sleeping is forbidden, all attempts to sleep will be immediately interrupted.
Her daily schedule is:
8 am Morning Routine
9 am Exercise
11 am Morning Activities
12 pm – 20 hrs Free Time
20 hrs Entertainment Program
21 hrs – 8 am Virtual Reality Immersion
The voice finalizes with “Have a wonderful stay.”
This sets the mood for the whole movie and prepares you for what’s next, sadly falls short.
It’s in the category of torture but it shy away, the torture happens behind scenes and we keep getting close ups of the chat, they still narrate what’s happening or will happen but at the same time it’s just repetitive, so much that at some point I agreed with them, it was boring.
The story itself is intriguing, but it feels that it wasn’t the sleep deprivation or the torture the ones that really messed with the minds of their test subjects, in her case was the procedure and the amazing animation she was watching on a loop.
The animation is incredible, open to interpretation, showing us different ways she was being tortured and constantly forced to “give birth” to monsters, taunting her until she reaches the level of self-harm.
There’s another scene where Mila is running and the location looks quite similar to the one in the beginning of Martyrs, I love the atmosphere, it’s something that the duo Khvaleev/Khaleeva gave us on their past films (III and Involution) and we are used to, this film is no exception.
I wish we could have a subtitled version, because the dubbed one has more than a few issues, the sound mixing was affected by the postproduction dubbing and sometimes between the echo, screams and pronunciation is really hard to understand what they are saying, besides we can’t fully appreciate the performances, which is a shame because it’s well made.
It is a very interesting idea, can’t wait to see their next project.
Stars Polina Davydova.
Sleepless Beauty is already available on VOD and digital platforms, followed by a blu-ray release on November 17.