Swedish Premiere, Méliès d’argent Competition
Michael Venus// Germany // 2020 // Horror / Psychological thriller // 102 min //Junafilm
Cast: Gro Swantje Kohlhof, Sandra Hüller, August Schmölzer, Marion Kracht, Agata Buzek
Language: German // Subtitles: English
Beset by horrifying nightmares that keep her sleep-deprived, Marlene thinks her night terrors are somehow related to a family-owned hotel in the picturesque village of Stainbach. She sets off to investigate the hotel and its strange history of suicides, but succumbs to catatonic shock and gets confined to the psychiatric ward. It’s up to Mona to trace her mother’s footsteps and discover the dark secrets that lie festering at the root of the family tree.
Nothing is what it seems in Sleep, a puzzle-box mystery that keeps viewers guessing as to how everything fits together. Eerily oneiric yet realistically rooted in Germany’s grim past, Michael Venus’ Berlinale debut gives nods to sleep demon mythology and Kubrick’s The Shining while morphing into a haunting fairy tale of the Guillermo del Toro variety: one in which traumatic wounds from the past bleed pain onto the living descendants.
A mental workout suffused with unnerving imagery, Sleep is sure to keep you up at night.
Text: Tom Kiesecoms