Director Rodney Ascher‘s new docu-horror The Nightmare illuminates a terrifying experience known as sleep paralysis, which temporarily causes people to hallucinate. The subjects Ascher profiles share a similar vision while frozen still between slumber and consciousness: dark, spine-chilling shadow figures. Unsurprisingly, The Nightmare has already been pinned as one of the scariest documentaries ever made!
Cutting between various chilling anecdotes of sinister late night visions and horrifying reenactments, The Nightmare manages a tricky balance of visceral fright and sincere investigation. It’s a rare non-fiction achievement that earns the ability to freak you out.
Check out a preview of The Nightmare below. Warning – don’t watch in the dark!
The Nightmare premieres at midnight tonight at Sundance Film Festival.
Q&A with director Rodney Ascher:
What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?
Eight people’s true experiences with sleep paralysis (and the things that wait for them in the darkness)
Now what’s it really about?
Based on 237 I’m a little reluctant to try and answer questions like that, but considering the fact that I won’t get the last word anyway, one thing it might ‘really’ be about is the ways we each struggle to define reality.
Tell us briefly about yourself.
After making a ton of shorts (with some amazing collaborators) since the nineties, I finally finished my first feature in 2012. Happily enough the second came a little quicker.
What was the biggest challenge in completing this film?
Choosing from the hundreds of first hand accounts sent to us once the film’s subject and call for interviewees were announced.
What do you want Sundance audiences to take away from your film.
People see things.
Did any films inspire you?
Ones I kept in mind during “The Nightmare” included “The Thin Blue Line” (1988) and “Demons 2” (1986).
What cameras did you shoot on?
The interviews were shot on a Canon 1Dc and the re-enactments on an Arri Alexa.
Did you crowdfund? If so, via what platform? If not, why?
We were really lucky and Content Media arranged the financing so we didn’t have to.