SCREAMFEST 2021 REVIEW! At some point during our lives, we’ve been afraid of the proverbial bump in the night. We worry over what might be lurking on the other side of the window or within the shroud of a dark closet. Though, if we break it down a bit further, what makes these voyeurs truly unnerving are their enigmatic intentions. Are they here to help or hurt us? This is the compelling question that drives director Carl Firth’s short film, Sleep Talker.
Written by Firth and Sarah Emery, this horror tale begins with Kelly (Jessica Saras) returning home from an ordinary day. She sees her husband Curtis (John van Putten) already asleep, sprawled across the bed as she enters the bedroom. As Kelly moves closer, she discovers that he’s murmuring in his sleep. Initially amused, Kelly soon becomes aware that something else is speaking through Curtis.
“…Kelly soon becomes aware that something else is speaking through Curtis.”
Sleep Talker is entirely defined by the uncanny and the inherent creepiness of the premise. In fact, the whole experience is a constant dance between absurdity and discomfort. While the cast put in solid performances, the make-up and practical effects by Jennifer Pryer stand out in front for their originality and tactile intensity. This is compounded when combined with Dane Hallett and Mel Milanovic’s intriguing creature designs, as well as Firth and Michael Koorey’s convincing visual effects.
Though Sleep Talker doesn’t go very far with its premise beyond a single scene, it has the foundational potential to become a feature-length production. It manages to subvert expectations fairly quickly and runs at a brisk pace, easily maintaining the audience’s attention. While he doesn’t accomplish anything vastly out of its mold, Firth excels at crafting an eerie atmosphere and effects work.
Sleep Talker screened at the 2021 Los Angeles Screamfest.
"…intriguing creature designs...convincing visual effects."