4 May 2017




Sleep Paralysis = a terrifying phenomenon whereby an individual is temporarily unable to move or speak whilst awake, when passing between the stages of waking up and falling asleep.

If I said that this independently-made supernatural horror film was a total snooze-fest, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I was slagging it off. Au contraire, movie buffs. It's actually a film about sleep and sleeping, haha, so I wasn't being disrespectful at all. Far from it. I really enjoyed the film, particularly because I'm big fans of the two leads, Jocelin Donahue and Jesse Bradford.

I only discovered the gorgeous Jocelin Donahue last year, when I saw a horror movie she starred in called HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009). It was one of the best horror films I'd ever seen, with a really authentic retro feel to it. Such a retro feel, in fact, that I was absolutely gobsmacked to find out that it was made in 2009 and not in the flippin' Eighties.

HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, just in case anyone wants to know, is the story of a pretty young college girl, played by Jocelin Donahue, who takes a babysitting job to supplement her college grant. Obviously spent all her parents' good money on drugs and booze and takeaways instead of textbooks, haha.

She gets way more than she bargained for, however, when she finds herself the main attraction at a ritual sacrifice being held by a bunch of loopy devil-worshippers. It's utterly terrifying and it's easily the equal of any grisly 'Eighties horror flick you could name.

Jesse Bradford is the hunky leading male star of SWIMFAN (2002), a film I call a sort of FATAL ATTRACTION for high school kids. Jesse plays the good boy-slash-school swimming champion who falls for the charms of new girl Madison Bell, despite the fact that he already has a high school sweetheart, the randy little sod.

Madison pulls a 'Glenn Close' on poor Jesse that makes him regret he ever laid eyes on her, never mind played hide-the-salami with her in the school swimming pool. Eurgh. It obviously didn't matter a damn to these two horny teens that other students had to use that pool the next day, with Jesse's wiggly spermatozoa presumably still floating around looking for a friendly and hospitable uterus to swim up into...! Excuse me while I just vomit for a minute.

Anyway, these two leads are great together in DEAD AWAKE, a film about the medical phenomenon known as 'sleep paralysis.' It's never happened to me (thank Jesus!) but I know some people it's happened to. It's when you wake up at night from a deep sleep but you can't move a muscle for a bit. You're suffering from sleep paralysis, in other words. 

Even scarier is the fact that you can even get the feeling that someone or something is sitting squarely on your chest preventing you from getting up. Feckin' hell.

It sounds terrifying and I sincerely hope that, now I've heard about it, the power of suggestion doesn't cause it to happen to me. I have a very impressionable and highly suggestible mind.

Every ailment I hear or read about, naturally I think I have it or am coming down with it. Every time I watch BEN-HUR, for example, I check myself scrupulously for signs of leperness for about a week afterwards.

In DEAD AWAKE, anyway, the beautiful Ms. Donahue plays twins, Beth and Kate. Beth is
the more fragile of the two. She's the one suffering from this sleep paralysis thingy, only it doesn't stop there. If it did stop there, it would just be a film about a medical ailment. Not exactly gripping stuff, haha. It'd be kind of like watching an episode of CASUALTY.

In fact, Beth gets an unpleasant visitor every time this phenomenon occurs, and it's a visitor who wishes her harm. The ultimate harm. You know what I mean, don't you? And I don't mean being tied to a chair and forced to watch re-runs of Prime Ministers' Question Time, either...

Kate, Beth's twin sister, is the only one who believes that what happened to her sister is directly related to a demonic supernatural force. Well, Beth's hot boyfriend Evan, or Jesse Bradford all hipster-ed up in a douchebag beard-and-ponytail combo, believes it too. So does a slightly crackpot doctor by the name of Doctor Hassan because he's been doing a lot of research into the whole thing. Well, if he says so, it must be true, huh?

They believe in the supernatural evil force because the same thing has been happening to all three of them. Crikey. All three of 'em have been getting the same nasty nocturnal visitor. Presumably not at the same time, not unless the visitor can be in three places at once. Or can it...? No, wait, it can't. Sorry. False alarm...

Anyway, the little team of Beth, Evan and Doctor Hassan team up to defeat the aforementioned evil force, about which I'm deliberately saying nothing to avoid spoilers. They do this by nodding off, literally. 

It's like that TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode of THE SIMPSONS in which Groundskeeper Willie invades the childrens' dreams with malicious intent. Like Freddie Krueger in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, see?

The only way the kids of Springfield Elementary- well, mainly Bart and Lisa Simpson- can save themselves is to go into each other's dreams and join forces to defeat the evil Willie.

Lisa: 'Goodbye, Bart!'

Bart: 'Goodbye, Lisa! Hope you get reincarnated as someone who can stay awake for five minutes...!'

That's pretty much what happens in DEAD AWAKE. There's so much nodding off and jerking awake in the film that it actually became a bit confusing. It got so that I could hardly keep up with who was nodding off and who was jerking awake at any given time.

And I'd strongly advise against anyone using the highly dubious medical practices seen in the film. I doubt if a certain Doctor Hassan will still be in business once the good folks at the Medical Council have a squint at the film. Disgraceful, utterly disgraceful. And do not, repeat, do not try this at home...!

The film's still good fun, though. It'd be well worth a watch once it comes out on home entertainment release on 15th May 2017, courtesy of SOLO MEDIA and MATCHBOX FILMS, especially if you're a fan of either of the two leads.

Lori Petty (TANK GIRL) is good in it too as the silly doctor who doesn't believe in the hideous nocturnal visitor who accompanies the onset of sleep paralysis. Yeah, well, she gonna get hers, don't you worry about that.

God, I'm sleepy now. It's all this talk of snoozing and beds and all that good stuff. Think I'll just close my eyes for a minute. Don't worry, I'm not asleep. I'm only resting my eyes. 

DEAD AWAKE (cert.15) is released on DVD & Digital Monday 15th May, courtesy of Solo Media and Matchbox Films.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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