By Jerome Reuter
You know what they say, “Misery loves company.” That’s the theme behind the 2011 Spanish thriller, Sleep Tight. I’m not going to lie; it’s one of the better ones I’ve seen in recent years. A story of manipulation, obsession, and a chilling look into someone’s depressed mental state. What’s better, it keeps all of these events confined into a single location—An upscale apartment building.
The story follows a concierge named Caesar. He’s a man who lacks the ability to be happy, and enjoys alleviating his affliction, by tormenting others. He’s what you might consider the downtrodden workingman, the typical doormat. Constantly berated by his boss, and looked down upon by the residences of the building he works in. There are two outside forces that drive his ambitions; His ailing mother, and a female tenant he is determined to make miserable.
After all, what’s the point of being miserable if you can’t share it with others?
The films greatest attributes rely on two things. The first is how far he is willing to go to cause someone misery. He doesn’t pull any punches with his deeds. Nothing is off limits, from forced cockroach infestations, home invasion, and even stalking. It’s a really fascinating look into the mind of a sociopath. As his mother lies ailing in the hospital, he tells her about what he’s done, and the perverse joy he gets from it.
The second is his uncanny ability for manipulation. Just when you feel he’s about to be figured out, he manages to shift the blame on someone else, or come up with a convincing alibi. Much like Jeffrey Dahmer, there’s always a clever lie to keep him an arms length out of trouble. To the people we see him interact with; he puts up a face of a caring worker, cleverly hiding his true face from everyone. (That is, except the audience.)
As I mentioned, all of these events take place within the apartment building itself. The audience gets to be the proverbial ‘fly on the wall.’ Watching our main character exploit the weakness of others, and revel in his ability to elude detection. The violence in this one is greatly downplayed; except for one scene in particular. The suspense however, escalates to a fever pitch. You don’t want to take your eyes off the screen for a moment, and you definitely shouldn’t.
I’m not going to give it away; but this also has one of the bleakest endings I’ve seen in awhile. Give this one a watch immediately, it’ll make you think twice before renting a condo.