Tue. Dec 5th, 2023

Nightmare has an sadly generic title, but it surely’s the phrase in its most literal utilization, referring to the “Mare”—a creature from folklore thought to torment sleepers. In Norwegian writer-director Kjersti Helen Raasmussen’s new movie, coming to Shudder this week, it takes the type of a very nasty dream demon.

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Nightmare has sure components in widespread with Rosemary’s Child and A Nightmare on Elm Road (particularly half 5, The Dream Little one), but it surely’s additionally its personal murky beast. It begins as Mona (Thelma’s Eili Harboe) and Robby (Herman Tømmeraas) transfer right into a spacious however dilapidated condo they’re solely in a position to afford due to Robby’s new job… and the unavoidable indisputable fact that the final tenant (“a pregnant girl” is all we study her) died on the premises. The movie opens with textual content explaining what “sleep paralysis” is, so it’s no shock when Mona begins having desires so vividly terrible she’s afraid to shut her eyes at evening. It doesn’t assist that the brand new condo, which she’s renovating solo attributable to Robby’s hectic schedule, envelops her in a hostile surroundings, full with unsettling sounds each inside (plenty of buzzing flies) and outdoors (neighbors who’re arguing every time their child isn’t screaming).

Additionally, Mona herself is considerably emotionally adrift; she’s 25 and the truth that she hasn’t found out a profession but is beginning to trouble her, particularly since Robby is turning into a workaholic. She and Robby aren’t married and even engaged, and he’s began dropping hints about wanting to start out a household. Her evening terrors, which contain erratic bouts of sleepwalking, worsen—and star a determine that appears like Robby however with perceptible menace oozing out of each pore.

Picture: Shudder

When Mona finds out she’s pregnant, Nightmare provides one other layer of ickiness to its story; whereas we’ve seen many tales of evil creatures that focus on expectant moms and/or newborns, it’s much less widespread to observe a girl who doesn’t need to be pregnant and chooses (after some invasive pushback from her physician) to get an abortion as a substitute. There are issues, since a child could be very a lot part of the Mare’s plan for Mona, so she seeks assist from a special medical enviornment: a sleep specialist named Aksel (Dennis Storhøi) who not solely understands what she’s going by way of, but in addition has experimental know-how that simply would possibly enable Mona to slide out of the Mare’s grasp.

The items are in place for a compelling and disturbing story advised very a lot from a girl’s standpoint, and Harboe makes good on the promise she confirmed in Thelma with one other emotionally wrenching efficiency. Sadly, Nightmare isn’t fairly in a position to execute its concepts in a satisfying means. A number of the film takes place in Mona’s surreal dream world, and the story drags at instances even when she’s not sleeping; being confined to the dreary condo constructing doesn’t assist maintain issues thrilling. There’s a component of intrigue that comes with Mona’s neighbors, and there are hints there’s extra to the story than simply Mona’s experiences. However for all its hat-tips to Rosemary’s Child, Nightmare by no means explores a lot of a conspiracy angle, or digs into why Mona and Robby’s condo constructing has such sinister bones, and even fleshes out Aksel in any attention-grabbing means. Maybe that’s intentional, to maintain Mona’s story extra intimate. However the reality is there’s nothing as horrifying in Mona’s desires as the best way she’s handled by her OB/GYN when she’s awake.

Nightmare arrives on Shudder September 29.

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