An apartment super who’s too attentive to his tenants’ needs? Sounds more like a Disney fantasy for adults than a thriller. But in the hands of [REC] director Jaume Balagueró (breaking out of Spain’s inventive horror ghetto with a subtler project), the setup slowly takes on an ick factor, as homely, balding caretaker César (Luis Tosar) spends too much time staring at bouncy Barcelonian Clara (Marta Etura). He’s got an odd way of wooing her: First come the anonymous letters in her mailbox, then multiple home invasions, during which Clara’s face cream is injected with welt-inducing oils. Sometimes, César will just drug his object of affection and snuggle next to her in bed—you know, the romantic stuff.
By the time he’s unleashing an army of cockroaches in her cozy one-bedroom, Sleep Tight has tripped over the line of intriguing obsession into psycho ridiculousness. As well-played as César is (Tosar brings a forlorn ache to the role), the plot pushes the character to unmotivated extremes, not helped by his tortured confessions to his ailing, bedridden mother. There’s a Polanskian black comedy buried in here somewhere; a sassy neighbor girl who knows too much (Iris Almeida) hints at the right direction, which is never fully explored. Hard as it is to find a decent rental space in any town, it’s clearly harder to spin dramatic gold out of tired urban legends.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
Cast and crew
Alberto San Juan