Rodney Ascher’s first feature was a hypnotic dissection of several theories on the true meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Each of the perspectives, which varied widely in credulity, were given their moment in the spotlight and most, if not all, burned up under critical scrutiny. But what Ascher did so well was to present the viewpoints matter-of-factly, almost begging us to hook on to one of these just to see what would happen if, it turned out, one of these strange theories was actually true.
My first exposure to Ascher’s work came when I discovered a forum post on unnerving films, and it was suggested that everyone check out The S from Hell. It is a terrifying short film, unlike any I had seen before. The less you know about it the better, so I’ve embedded it in this post to enjoy at a later date.
Sundance played host to that short film five years ago and earlier this year the festival welcomed Ascher back with his latest documentary The Nightmare. Inspired by the director’s own bout of sleep paralysis The Nightmare examines this fairly common experience, that of being suddenly awake but completely unable to move, with testimonies and surreal recreations of its effects.
It has been hailed as one of the most terrifying movies you’ll see this year. Caught in the uncertain limbo between waking and sleeping, The Nightmare focuses on the experience and theories of eight different people, to uncover what the metaphysical and psychological effects have been.
The Nightmare is out in cinemas from the 9th of October and on DVD from the 26th of October and we have a first look at the UK poster for you today.