Quick Plot: Cesar is works as the concierge at an expensive apartment building in Barcelona. While his days consist of opening doors and feeding the stomach-sensitive dogs of his tenants, his nights are little more sinister.
Cesar, you see, cannot be happy. Whereas some men would try therapy or overload on sugar, Cesar's solution to his intensely ambivalent life is to find whatever pleasure he can in the unhappiness of others. Especially if he's the one who causes it.
Enter Clara, a pretty and bubbly young tenant who exits the building every day with a smile and warm thank you. She's the kind of woman you're glad to have as a neighbor, a genuinely nice soul with as sunny a disposition as you can find.
Naturally, Cesar plots to tear it all away.
Written by Alberto Marini and directed by Jaume Balaguero (one half of REC and REC 2), Sleep Tight is a film that doesn't play nice. Cesar is a cruel man, one who enjoys tormenting the innocent Clara while also verbally unraveling a nice, lonely older woman who made the mistake of thinking he was her friend. A scene where he quietly tells that tenant that her life is empty, never raising his voice to do so, provides some of the most unsettling minutes I've ever spent with a film.
A featurette on the DVD includes an interview where the screenwriter discusses some of the revision process, including the fact that several subplots were cut before filming. Excellent decision. Because Sleep Tight is seen entirely from Cesar's eyes, the film moves with incredibly tense momentum. It also prevents Cesar from becoming a typical villain, since we rely so much on his perspective to follow the story. Had the script bounced around with minor characters, Cesar might have been reduced to a simpler monster and not the fascinating character he ultimately is
Speaking of, as Cesar, Luis Tosar nails it
Credit to the film for its ending, but OUCH
Kids today are getting very crafty about their blackmail demands
I won't be eager to revisit Sleep Tight anytime soon, but some years down the line, I look forward to seeing how it plays upon repeat viewing. It's disturbing on a very unique level, sort of like a lighter version of Michael Haneke's Cache or a calmer version of The Vanishing. Except maybe not at all. Point is, Sleep Tight is well worth a watch, as is the making-of feature included on the DVD. Quiet horror at its best.