Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Come True: She Doesn’t Dream, She has Nightmares

Fall asleep during this film at your own peril, because it suggests unhealthy sleep patterns can really mess you up. Eventually, those shadowy sleep paralysis figures show up, but there is more to it than mere Freddy Krugerish chills. Fortunately, it is also sufficiently intense to keep most genre fans wide-awake. Signing up for a sleep study leads to all kinds of paranoia and anxiety for a young runaway, but at least she gets paid $12 an hour in Anthony Scott Burns’ Come True, which releases Friday on VOD.

We never really learn why Sarah ran away from home, but when the mother of her best remaining friend gets tired of her sleeping over, the local university’s sleep study sounds like a perfect solution. Several of her fellow subjects have apparently done this before, so no worries, right? However, her persistent nightmares are getting worse and the post-slumber questions are more than a little off-putting. However, what really alarms her is the realization one of the grad student researchers has been following her, or maybe really stalking her. Yet, by confronting him and threatening to quit, she manages to blackmail “Rif” into explaining the nature of the study, to some extent.

Come True is to sleep paralysis and nightmares what the original Flatliners was to near-death experiences. There are definitely science fictional elements, but the tone and imagery are indeed nightmarish. In fact, Come True has some of best nightmare sequences since maybe the Nightmare Detective films. In this case, there is a Giger-esque fantasy element to Burns’ nightmarescapes, which makes them so weird and disturbing.

Julia Sarah Stone really is terrific as her young namesake. She perfectly conveys the show of toughness required by desperately vulnerable street kids. It is also interesting to watch her playing scenes with Landon Liboiron’s Rif. At times, their relationship will look highly problematic, but it is important to consider them in light of the film’s full revelations.

Dozens of just okay horror movies jumped on the sleep paralysis bandwagon after Rodney Ascher’s
The Nightmare, but Burns finds a new and distinctive approach. His ending will likely be divisive, but it sticks with you. Indeed, Come True really gets in your head and your ear, thanks to Burns’ own eerie cinematography and the massively creepy sound design. This is quite an accomplished horror film. Very highly recommended, Come True releases this Friday (3/12) on VOD.