Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In My Sleep (2009)

Sleep kills: trust no one...including yourself

Marcus has a disorder in which he sleep walks and is able to perform different activities--such as getting frisky with different women and dumping them later--but then has no recollection after the fact and usually wakes up naked somewhere else. After regretfully sleeping with Ann--his best friend Justin's wife who is also his boss at the day spa--he sees a doctor who tells him he has a rare condition called parasomnia. The headstrong playboy enrolls in a sex addiction group to calm his pants-open-for-business-24/7 ways but keeps getting distractions from women in the L.A. scene. At his birthday party, with various ladies he can't remember that Justin invited from his address book, he receives an anonymous gift of a knife and a mysterious card. Soon enough he wakes up with bloody hands and that same knife along with the police banging at this door from a 911 hang up call. Justin's wife Ann is dead from stab wounds and all evidence points to him or someone who wants to use or back stab him from screwing them over in the past. And the list is long...

This is more lighter and charismatic than other murder mysterious that travel on the darker side with stern expressions and graver encounters. It's oddly quirky and upbeat with a brand of awkward humor and situations that play it more safe than overly dangerous or gratuitous. It's PG-13, so there's no cursing, nudity and no gore but just blood and suggestion. "In My Sleep" feels like a far-fetched TV pilot with so many various coincidental threads all happening at the same time but the movie has a lot of personality to show for itself in the form of pure entertainment. What helps is there isn't a lot of down time to think if something's exaggerated or not and the gears of the story, editing and direction are usually greased to keep the engine running smoothly.

The emotions and expressions take it more in stride than stepping over to be a straight drama. So while people are getting mishandled and killed, the performers don't always go full fledged, which keeps the pacing lively and moving forward with more to do or say than getting stuck. The main driving point is its mystery element with a series of clues and characters to meet along the way that are kept interesting as well as potential suspects, such as his overly helpful neighbor and a newly met doctor at the meetings. Then there are those that you don't see that might be working in the shadows, along with a past history with the disorder involving nightmarish visions that keep leading to Marcus' late father and off put mother. There are a few overextended scenes, others that overreached and some of the jokes cross the line into sitcom territory without the laugh track. Though there are enough bread crumbs and red herrings tossed about to keep one hungry till the pay off when it all gets unraveled with a few different threads of deceit coming out in the open.

I found this to be an interesting concept, as it's a film--something in the vicinity of "Memento" with memory loss but not as hard edged--where a person can't trust themselves if they'll use others, never mind those around them who they can't trust that will use them back. The tension isn't always palpable and it's an easy popcorn type fare though to its credit it's largely unpredictable and unmuddled. It's not the tightest character study piece but it still comes with some relating aspects to think about with trust and maintaining relationships of friends, family and romance. Not to mention there are plenty of "what would you do if that happened to you?" kind of scenarios that makes this a diverting experience that's definitely worth at least a watch.

Rating: 7/10

Director: Allen Wolf (Harlem Grace)
Stars: Philip Winchester, Tim Draxl, Lacey Spencer, Abigail Spencer, Kelly Overton
Link: IMDB

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