Bong Joon-ho protégé Jason Yu’s clever horror debut stars South Korean favourites Lee Sun-kyun (Parasite) and Jung Yu-mi (Train to Busan, MIFF 2016).
Newlyweds Hyun-su (Lee) and Soo-jin (Jung) are expecting a baby, but this may not be the only new addition to their home. One night, Hyun-su sits bolt upright in bed, declaring, “Someone’s inside,” before falling back asleep. Are his somnambulant speeches just night terrors, like the doctors suggest? Or has a more sinister presence invaded their home, as the increasingly anxious Soo-jin fears?
Palme d’Or-winning director Bong has called Sleep, which premiered in competition at Cannes Critics’ Week, “the most unique horror film and the smartest debut film [he has] seen in 10 years”. Unfolding primarily within the couple’s apartment, Yu deftly conjures an all-consuming atmosphere of domestic claustrophobia, offsetting creeping dread with dark humour. Supernatural scares are grounded by authentic performances from leads Lee and Jung – who also starred together in Hong Sang-soo’s Our Sunhi (MIFF 2014) and Oki’s Movie (MIFF 2011) – in an unsettling marriage story that asks if we can ever truly know the people we love. This assured first feature confirms Yu as a filmmaker to watch.
Yu’s Sleep is a helluva feature debut that should make him a star … A dazzling, superbly rendered genre exercise.
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