Sleep Tight: Just How Mean Can a Movie Be? 

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Sleep Tight
Directed by Jaume Balagueró

You know those miserable people who try to bring down everyone around them? Luis Tosar is the apotheosis of the type in this Spanish thriller, in which a psychopath clinically incapable of being happy does everything—everything—he can to wipe the smiles off of smiling people's faces. He's a killer of kindness, an extinguisher of optimism, an impairer of positive thinking. An ostensibly upstanding and trustworthy concierge in an upscale apartment building, Tosar picks as his latest target a woman upstairs, played by Marta Etura, from whom he tries to rob of joy like the devil did Job. At night he hides under her bed, waits until she's asleep, then drugs her, sleeps in her bed, god only knows what else. He writes her harassing letters, emails and texts; he clogs her sink, infects her with a rash, infests her apartment with insects. It's every lady renter's worst nightmare. And it gets worse, much worse, from there.

Director Balagueró was one half of the team behind the first two [Rec] movies; he left the lousy third to collaborator Paco Plaza, so it now seems clearer who deserves more credit for the striking original, despite Balagueró's early-career clunkers like Darkness. Though Sleep Tight isn't as formally thrilling as [Rec]; it's methodical and patient like its crazy hero. It does boast at least one super-tense sequence, but the rest are just cruel. The film is most notable not for its style but for its script by Alberto Marini (who usually works as a producer or executive)—for its viciousness, its relentless torment just for psychopathic pleasure. It's a crazy movie that only gets crazier, relishing testing the audience to imagine just how mean it can be. It's even meaner than that.

Opens October 26

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