“So, did we just show up and go to sleep?” Asks the incredulous young woman during her first meeting with the scientists in charge of the mysterious experiment. And you can’t fault him for his skepticism. The idea of slipping away peacefully in a comfortable bed is not a known experience for Sarah, who seems to flee an unnamed abusive situation at home, spending most of her nights sleeping in a nearby playground or crashing with her best friend Zoe (Tedra Rogers). Indeed, despite being connected to several wires, wearing a thick felt headset, and wearing various panels tightly wrapped around her body, Sarah wakes up on the morning of her first night of sleep study. , feeling and looking fresh like anything – maybe now she could stay awake during class and not drown in half a dozen cups of coffee a day.
As you might expect, things are not as straightforward as they seem in the covert, groundbreaking (or, it is said) study aimed at uncovering the truth behind the unexplained condition of sleep paralysis, as revealed later. First, there’s the issue of the only other woman on the show, who doesn’t show up beyond her first night. Researchers try to assure Sarah that people are giving up all the time, but she feels uncomfortable nonetheless. Then there’s the question of the charming Jeremy (Landon Liboiron), who continues to stalk Sarah – it’s an alarming shock to her (but not to us) when it’s revealed he’s involved behind the scenes at the study. Equally disturbing is the episode of a panic attack that Sarah has when shown a familiar captured image of one of her nightmares – just a dark figure with indistinct eyes.
The concept of those dreaded black figures hiding from you as you sleep, approaching you as you open your eyes in languid terror, will be intensely familiar to those who have been unfortunate enough to experience sleep paralysis. before, as well as those who have seen Rodney Ascher’s mischievously pungent docu-horror, “The Nightmare.” He’s not as good at his scares as Ascher is, but Burns still gives these hellish visions a chilling edge, enveloping them in the depths of Sarah’s abstract subconscious with sufficient visual impact. His dreams crawl through dark tunnels and strangely opening doors, glimpse sculpted limbs and stony bodies hanging from the ceiling, with the images of sometimes still, sometimes frightening moving shadows perpetually present. These are truly the most effective scenes in “Come True,” with aggressive yet memorable production design elements working overtime to hide the film’s low budget and rough but commendable visual effects. The icy cinematography and synthesized score of the film – Burns shot, edited, wrote and co-scripted the film, the latter under the pseudonym Pilotpriest – also feels a little harsh. Yet, they collectively help him approach his Cronenbergian levels of paranoia-infused terror, even if he doesn’t quite get there.