Blue is a down on her luck call girl working in Brighton, England. She’s sent out to service Bill, a young man who’s currently working on restoring an old home that used to function as a brothel during the Victorian age. Bill really seems more interested in the house than he is Blue, and while showing her around they stumble upon a hidden Sleeping Room behind a mirror, a place where the prostitutes used to rest in between serving clients. While they’re snooping, Blue comes across some old photos that may be the key to unlocking some very hidden and dark family secrets.
Is the family secret that their photographs were haunted by creepy children?
The Sleeping Room is an English horror film from 2014. The summary on Amazon touted it as “…one of the most acclaimed British horror films in recent years….”. After watching it, I can only assume that they were either exaggerating, or basing their description on only one review. Because while I found my time with the film quite enjoyable, it also feels underdeveloped enough that I’m sure with some thorough digging I could find something far more polished that came out recently.
At least I got to look at the beach occasionally….
The film’s biggest flaw is probably it’s pacing. If you take out the opening and closing credits, the film manages to clock in at about 70 minutes, which doesn’t give the movie much time to dawdle. But dawdle it does regardless. While the overall plot is easy enough to grasp, the middle section sets up pieces and drags everything out to the point where it’s almost a certainty that the original intention was meant to include a lot more backstory and subplots, but the production likely lacked the time or funds (or focus) to include any of them. So you end up with a movie that starts out as a mystery that sets up a rather intriguing concept, but then the entire middle shifts focus so much that you almost forget that you’re watching a horror movie until the last 10-minutes or so. As a result, the first and final acts end up being decent enough, but the middle part just ends up feeling like a meandering mess trying to get you to a conclusion. And when it does get to its conclusion, the film rushes through it, as though even the movie itself can unconsciously tell that it’s running out of time.
Then, to add even more insult to injury, the conclusion itself ends up being rather disappointing, leaving the viewer confused as to what actually happened, and whether or not anything they witnessed ever actually happened, or if it was all just some weird fever dream used to trick the audience. I hate endings like that. They almost alway feel like the director is either screwing with us, or they’re so indecisive that they kept waffling on the ending to the point where they gave up and shoved two ideas together and hoped no oune would notice or people would think it was “arty”, conveniently forgetting that that same schtick has been used in films a thousand times before and everyone grew tired of it decades ago.
Hey! Hurry and wake up, will ya! We’ve got to confuse the audience.
Then there’s the writing, which seems further meant to confuse the viewer. The movie wants you to believe that the whole plot is cleverly engineered by a malicious spirit from Blue’s family past. But if you bother to pay even the slightest bit of attention, it’s obvious that the damn ghost does little more than participate in one single possession. Other than that everything else happens solely based on a series of convenient coincidences. And don’t even get me started on how stupid it is that Blue’s ultimate escape from her malevolent captor ends up being little more than her literally locking a door. That’s it. No epic deception. No grand showdown. She just lets another ghost distract him and then turns the lock and flees. After all that buildup, that may be one of the most anticlimactic things I’ve ever seen.
Wait…is this flimsy door actually going to hold him? Sweet!
All those complaints aside though, the movie isn’t a total downer. The acting here is pretty top-notch, especially from lead Leila Mimmack, and the evil ghost, Christopher Adamson, though everyone else also pulls in strong performances. The film also looks and feels quite nice, with lovely shots of the city and sets, and an impressively creepy atmosphere that perfectly matches the subject matter. It’s really just a shame that the same level of careful thought that went into the casting and visuals didn’t go into the story.
Overall, I ended up liking The Sleeping Room, even despite it’s rather annoying flaws. It’s got an interesting story concept with a great cast and wonderful visuals and atmosphere. But the plot itself likely would have benefitted from a couple more rewrites and more inclusion of some much needed backstory, which would have helped add more emotional depth and that at times seemed more interesting than parts of the plot we were actually given. Oh, and the ending super sucked. I refused to let up on that. Oh well, though. I still ended up liking it, flaws and all. Gore hounds will be disappointed by the lack of blood and guts. But for those looking for more of a quick, “light” horror outing, then you could certainly do much worse than The Sleeping Room.
The Sleeping Room is available on a variety of streaming services, including free on Tubi TV.
It is also available on DVD.