Review: Sleep Tight
After the found-footage zombie contagion of [REC], director Jaume Balagueró maintains his penchant for single-setting metropolitan apartment buildings with Sleep Tight, a five-star creepy stalker movie. Cinematographer Pablo Rosso, the unsung hero of [REC] as the voice and eyes of “Pablo” the cameraman, shows his mettle as more than a walking camera as he captures the uncanny textures and surprising angles of what we take for granted every day: a line of mailboxes, a bathroom sink—and the enigmatic doorman.
Luis Tosar gleams as César, building concierge and your friendly neighborhood psychopath. César’s voiceover, presumably addressed to a late-night talk therapy radio program (wouldn’t we like to see that episode of Frasier!), informs us of his self-diagnosis: he was born incapable of happiness. But we don’t really care why he does what he does, just how, and our acquaintance with César and his prurient routine verges on the how-to. The film delights in the tantalizing process of discovery: what exactly is César’s relationship to girl-next-door Clara? Why is he paying 12-year-old Ursula blackmail? Just how deep does his perversity go? Paced like pulling taffy, Sleep Tight leaves us salivating for each warped taste.
Tosar is slyly attractive, despite the frumpy housecoat he must wear as a domestic to distinguish him from the bourgeois inhabitants of this swanky residence. His alluring half-smile (his extraordinary eyebrows and charisma recall a young David Suchet) draws us into an ethically questionable but aesthetically scrumptious “complicity with the abhorrent,” to borrow a favorite phrase from Susan Sontag. It’s hard not to worship the object of César’s twisted affections as she performs a solo striptease in her crisp, Kohler-commercial bathroom; the camera idolizes her even in his absence. Every development is illicitly delicious. Balagueró and Tosar have concocted a Sweeney Todd or [insert your favorite psychopath here] for the 21st century.
To provide more than morsels of the plot would kill the thrill. Consider instead highlights of the gleefully ironic soundtrack: Patti Page sings Burt Bacharach’s “Keep Me in Mind,” a swinging tune that accompanies César’s sadistic daily ritual: “If you need someone to lower the light / And then you want someone to hold you real tight / Someone who'll hold you and do it up right / Keep me in mind!” Whistle a few bars as you contemplate who uses your toothbrush while you’re sleeping.