Directed by #LewisTaylor
Written by #LewisTaylor
Josh (Joseph Richard Thomas) is becoming an adult and craves greater independence, even if that means something as simple as going to bed by himself. His Dad (Mark Field), however, is unable to fully accept that his son is growing up and so the two appear to be stuck in a 1980s loop of the past. However, short film Sleep Tight is far more complex than a complex father/son relationship and Josh wanting to sleep with the light on. Josh’s reality is far more sinister and when his bedroom is dark, he is trapped inside its confined horrors.
Directed by Lewis Taylor, this short film is a throwback to 1980s horror-comedies in both its tone and filming style. It uses cliché horror moments that work very well within the eight-minute narrative. Suspense is well-built with practical effects and high camera angles on Josh, illustrating further how trapped he feels as he cannot physically escape. The audience is provided with both lean-in and recoil moments. For instance, the use of shadows and slow deliberate movements from actress Péline Liberty as ‘The Abomination’ creates tension further, which then contrasts effectively with her louder actions. Sound acts as a great jump cut, as both these loud and quiet moments build and break tension with each breath that Josh takes.
Alongside this, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud comedic moments with the inclusion of small details that provoke laughter from horror fans alike. The camera often pans to funny props that the script alludes to, such as the posters in Josh’s room, or a suspicious-looking object, which contain witty hidden messages. As well as look and feel, the short also oozes 1980s cultural references, such as the horror film references and props, making it feel like a scene taken from the beginning of an 80s horror-comedy.
Both Thomas and Field create a realistic father/son dynamic with their performances sparking all the comedy contained here. They do well to capture a father refusing to see his child getting older, alongside his son who wants to do more for himself. There is a serious reality that underpins their reactions to each other, but this is masked by their stichomythic banter, which works much better. The realism injected into their lines conveys a real relationship in the centre of this horror piece.
Ending on a hilarious note, the film keeps audiences laughing until the very last second, whilst not undermining the horror aspect of Josh’s situation. It would have been nice to see this film run on for a longer length of time, but there is still a lot to enjoy within these eight minutes. Taylor has successfully created a very unpredictable plot with the perfect balance of fear and humour.
Sleep Tight was an official selection for the London Independent Film Festival this year.