Director Pavel Khaleev adds a new entry to the torture subgenre of horror films in Epic Pictures Sleepless Beauty. Set in Russia, the film a twisted story about a young woman, Mila (Polina Davydova), who is kidnapped by a mysterious organization known as Recreation. Her unknown abductors talk to her through a loudspeaker and set strict rules: she cannot sleep and has to fulfill bizarre and violent tasks if she hopes to stay alive.
At first, it looks like someone’s sick idea of entertainment. Still, as the demands become more intense, Mila realizes that she is losing control of her mind and, instead, is a pawn in a twisted and deadly psychological experiment. Meanwhile, Mila’s parents enlist a private investigator to find their daughter, with the detective discovering a much conspiracy may be at hand.
Sleepless Beauty opens up with a random kidnapping before introducing us to our heroine Mila shopping for a rare fish in a pet store. As the film began and in the first moments, naturally, Mila makes a few mistakes, including not paying attention to her surroundings. When an overzealous suitor shows interest in Mia, I kind of had an idea where the film might go.
To my surprise, the film does take a sharp turn, but not in the right way. For starters, the movie isn’t scary, and the violence is pretty tame for a horror film of this type. I will attest that the film does have a strong angle where Mia isn’t allowed to sleep, and that should’ve been the film’s central plot. Instead, by the time we reached the Claymation sequences, I had no idea what was going on anymore.
Polina Davydova does make for a serviceable scream queen. The film doesn’t give her enough to work with. The only other person in the cast worth mentioning is Evgeniy Gagarin, who portrays a fellow prisoner. We never see his face we never see, but he utilizes his body language to convey his agony. I can’t think of the last time I was waiting for the antagonist of some sort to show and take out our lead character.
Despite a short run time, Sleepless Beauty is a painful bore. Horror fanatics expecting a film in the vein of Saw will surely be disappointed. At the same time, mainstream viewers may find the movie very jaded.
Final Grade: D-
Sleepless Beauty is available on VOD + Digital today, while the Blu-Ray is due for release next Tuesday, the 17th.