In Their Sleep, otherwise known as Dans ton Sommeil in its native France, follows Sarah (Anne Parillaud)’s eventful evening after being sent home from work. Still traumatised after the horrific death of her son almost a year before, Sarah accidentally runs down a teenage boy whilst driving home, a boy that brings her son to the forefront of her mind. As the evening transpires she soon begins to realise that the enigmatic Arthur (Arthur Dupont) may not be quite who he says he is….
After quickly establishing the cause of Sarah’s fragility, In Their Sleep‘s pace begins to stutter causing the strange relationship between the zombie-esque Sarah and the deranged Arthur to assault the senses. At first the film’s tone appears both sleepy and bleak and, with the lacking soundtrack, you may begin to wonder whether you’ll soon be watching the film in your sleep as well as theirs. The film nevertheless reels you in and by about the 40-minute mark things begin to get interesting.
Most of the film’s focus, when not orbiting Sarah’s lost son, lays on the identity of the mysterious robber who is currently terrorising the neighbourhood. Having attacked Arthur, the shadowy figure injects adrenaline into the slow-burning script when he begins to speed after them. The film’s varying pace dictates that he suddenly drive away, leaving the leads with time on their hands. Instead of choosing the sane option and calling the police, they stick to horror-movie lore and decide to sleep it off. Bad move.
After their mysterious stalker finds them in Sarah’s part-renovated secluded home the film begins to play with time and Hollywood horror-esque twists. A series of flashbacks, flashforwards and dreams ensue and expertly begin to unravel the story, providing the film with its punch. Unfortunately not enough is made of its twists and tensions and it soon reverts back to form, with Sarah and Arthur driving, rather blandly, in search for help.
At times it seems like the minds behind In Their Sleep had loads of great ideas that they then tried to squish into a remarkably empty-feeling 80 minutes. Although it packs several worthy shocks, they appear muted as the film never quite finds the balance between mystery, thriller, horror, desperation and loss. All the elements for a good film are present and the production is superb but the two just don’t manage to gel as well as they could have done.
That’s not to say In Their Sleep should be avoided; Arthur Dupont plays the obscure (and rather creepy) Arthur brilliantly and it is thanks to his prowess that the more we see of him the less we appear to know. In Their Sleep may utilise cleverly-timed reveals that only click after all the film’s pieces have been played but its twists unfortunately feel recycled whilst its pace never really gathers momentum which makes, disappointingly given the film’s promise, for a thriller that lacks the thrills. Despite this, In Their Sleep is well worth the watch, even if it is just to see how many twists they can ring out of Arthur…
Best line: ‘I always take the photos’
Best performance: Arthur Dupont