There are few things on this planet more terrifying than sleep paralysis. Experienced by millions of people around the world, sleep paralysis often occurs before falling asleep or upon waking, rendering your body completely immobile but your mind entirely aware of what’s happening.
For many, these episodes are accompanied by nightmarish visuals, such as monsters sitting on your chest or strange creatures walking towards you. These vivid hallucinations seem completely real at the time, as you’re sort of in limbo between being asleep and awake, but you’re unable to do anything to escape the approaching terror.
Filmmaker Rodney Ascher tackles this horrifying phenomenon in upcoming documentary The Nightmare, wherein he interviews several people who regularly experience sleep paralysis. Their experiences are brought to life through reenactments, and the doc is being hailed as the downright scariest film of the decade. Yes. Decade.
Per the documentary’s official synopsis…
The Nightmare’s subjects hail from different backgrounds and walks of life, but share eerily similar visions of malevolent, near-human beings that grow increasingly aggressive the longer the sleep paralysis recurs. Are these just random hallucinations or something more? Rational explanations get challenged by the similarities of the “shadow people” multiple subjects describe looming over them. Ascher, who has first hand knowledge of sleep paralysis, brings the full intensity of this experience to the screen while maintaining empathy and respect for his subjects. As the film unfolds, distinctions between the documentary and horror genres fade as do easy lines between reality and the imagination.
The Nightmare haunts theaters and VOD on June 5th. Check out the just released trailer below, and prepare to lose some sleep tonight.