“The Dark Sleep” is a short film based on an H.P. Lovecraft story “The Dreams in the Witch House.” I have only read a couple Lovecraft stories and “The Dreams in the Witch House” is not one of them. So I cannot comment on the accuracy of this particular portrayal or even the quality of the original tale. Still, I have always loved the macabre feel and the notions of alien deities that mention of Lovecraft conjures up. I even played the RPG game “The Call of Cthulu” a couple times back in the day, so I went into this movie with reasonably high expectations. Now, on to the review.
The main character of the film is Nancy Peterson, played by Ashley Galloway. She is a recently divorced writer who purchases a house from her ex-husband, Pete, for zero dollars. There is but one stipulation: she cannot paint over the bizarre painting found in the basement. However, once she sets up shop in the house, she is soon beset with strange nightmares and encounters with extra-dimensional creatures. Her concentration goes to pot: she can’t write; she can’t sleep; and she grows more irritable with every passing day. Her sister, Kelley, comes to visit and to lend a hand, but soon she is drawn into the surreal web of macabre construction herself. Can Nancy solve the mystery of the house for the sake of her own sanity and her and her sister’s safety? Watch the movie and find out.
Strengths: overall, I thought the story held together fairly well. There weren’t any gaping logical flaws (assuming you can accept the premise of extra-dimensional travel through dreams), and most of the acting, although not stellar, was fine. There were some weak parts, though: most notably a brief scene in the very beginning and the climax at the end, both of which featured the ex-husband. Weaknesses: special effects do not make a movie, but they can add to one. And in this case, I think the effects subtracted. It was a low budget movie and it really did show. That said, the scenery and surreal atmosphere of the dream sequences was handled well; it would have been nice if the effects were up to snuff to complement such, but alas, they weren’t. Another weakness was how the house appeared … well, maybe not. But both my friends and I were expecting an old beat up thing from the nineteen-twenties, or something like that, but it looked like a reasonably modern house. And that just did not fit the tone of the movie.
Anyway, I’ll give this film three and half out of five stars.