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Midlands Review - Sleepless

By midlandsmovies, Jul 13 2018 07:15AM

Sleepless (2018)

Directed by Sheikh Shahnawaz

From Catharsis Films comes Sleepless, the latest short film from local filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz.

What lengths would you go to if surreal nightmares had kept you up for over six days? In Sleepless one man must deal with such a scenario.

The film opens on the troubled man (Sam Malley) resting on his sofa, desperately trying to keep his eyes open. The camera pans down to reveal an electronic ankle bracelet which buzzes soon after shocking him. Who would put such a device on themselves? Who wants to stay awake this badly?

His housemate (Nisaro Karim) sitting opposite from him chirps up, “Why don’t you take that bloody thing off” with a tone of concern for his friend. However, there is an air of tension between the two which is one of the key elements for the story and one of my favourite dynamics of the film alongside a good, moody score by Yunis Khan.

Both men exchange insults as their backstory is revealed, both actors give great performances but Karim’s is especially impressive as he could of easily of played this role as a cartoonish, maniacal figure instead however he downplays his intentions and keeps the audience guessing as to what his character is about.

It is later revealed that there was a mugging that had gone awry some days before. What started off as an opportunity to steal a man’s wallet, ends with an unnecessary death. Whilst I’m sure this wasn’t made with the recent national crime wave in mind, it is still effective in the way Shahnawaz displays how the culprit deals with the consequences.

Whilst this isn’t a horror film, the premise of a character wanting to stay awake at any cost as they are terrified of their own nightmares, takes me back to Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, a film that deals with guilt, regret and consequence, something Sheikh Shahnawaz, on a shoestring budget does in spades.

Making a short film every month is no easy task, however accompanied with good actors and a talented composer, Shahnawaz manages to create a dark thriller that is expertly paced throughout its seven-minute runtime. Film fans and fellow filmmakers would definitely benefit from checking out his channel for more local short films and advice.

Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

Watch the full short below and check out Sheikh's YouTube channel here:


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