‘The Nightmare’ a unique horror documentary from director Rodney Ascher (Room 237) will be unleashed in North America in theaters and on VOD on June 5, 2015 courtesy of Gravitas Ventures. The critically acclaimed film claims to have left Sundance audiences afraid to turn out the lights after its world premiere in January. The film screens at the SXSW Film Festival, in the Midnight section today, March 13.
Imagine that when you slept, you sensed that something was watching you in the darkness. Worse still, when you suddenly woke up, you were paralyzed and helpless, as a shadowy presence came inexorably closer to you. Welcome to ‘The Nightmare’ from Rodney Ascher, who last brought audiences his portrait of the Kubrick-obsessed ‘Room 237’. In this new film, he uses atmospheric, cinematic recreations to get the audience into the heads of everyday people suffering from sleep paralysis, a condition in which they regain consciousness but are unable to move or cry out for help. Frequently, they hear menacing noises and voices and even see intruders, human or otherwise, in the room with them. The prevalence of sleep paralysis in the general population is surprisingly high, approximately 6.2 percent, a statistic borne out by a dramatic show of hands (and one tearful testimonial) at the film’s park City premiere.
‘The subjects of ‘The Nightmare’ hail from different backgrounds and walks of life, sharing eerily similar visions of malevolent, near-human beings that grow increasingly aggressive the longer the sleep paralysis recurs. Are these just random hallucinations or something more? Rational explanations get challenged by the similarities of the shadow people multiple subjects describe looming over them. Ascher, who has first hand knowledge of sleep paralysis, brings the full intensity of this experience to the screen while maintaining empathy and respect for his subjects. As the film unfolds, distinctions between the documentary and horror genres fade as do easy lines between reality and the imagination.
‘The Nightmare’ was produced by Campfire’s Ross M. Dinerstein and Zipper Brothers Films’ Glen Zipper, co-produced by Tim Kirk and executive production by Content’s Jamie Carmichael, Preferred’s Kevin Iwashina and Ralph Zipper.
Director Ascher said: “I’m thrilled that we’ve found such a fearless partner to release the film into the world at large, Gravitas is dedicated to welcoming everyone to our Nightmare and I’m excited to be working with them.”
Producer Glen Zipper added: “Getting pulled inside the mind of Rodney Ascher was a remarkable experience neither Ross nor I could’ve prepared ourselves for. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Gravitas to share Rodney’s unique vision with audiences.”
“‘The Nightmare’ is uniquely chilling, it ignites what is already lurking within our own brains and lets loose all the monsters we house within. We are thrilled to work with Rodney Ascher and his team and we expect this film to keep people awake at night for a long time,” said Mia Bruno, Director of Acquisitions of Gravitas Ventures.