Today I’m reviewing a confusing mess of a horror movie called “Nightmare.” It was directed by Terry Ingram and stars Haylie Duff, the Duff sister most likely to appear in a movie like this, as a graduate student studying sleep paralysis, when she starts to get Freddie Krugered or some shit. In fact, it’s very close to being a direct rip-off of Nightmare on Elm Street, the monster’s makeup, attacking through dreams, hell they even tie in fire and preying on children.
The movie opens with our heroine, Molly, riding a bike for at least 30 miles as she goes from some woods, through a small town main street, to a suburban neighborhood. While she’s riding past a boarded up house the camera does a double take- HEY I THINK THIS IS IMPORTANT.
The movie cuts to the same house 11 years earlier. A little girl is sleeping in her bed when she hears crying and pain noises. She goes downstairs to investigate (just like every kid who gets scared alone at night) and discovers her mother having the loudest nightmare ever on the couch downstairs. She wakes her mother and after being told to go back to bed, mommy opens up a music box and cries. Uh-huh, that happened. Back upstairs the little girl gets blown on by a gust of wind and then we’re back in the present day.
Our heroine’s in a bar with two friends, Surfer Guy and Brunette, and we establish that this is her hometown, she’s recently moved back and is now living with these two. We also establish that her mother died when she was eight, hey, you don’t think she could be the child in the beginning?
The next morning after a class I can only assume is Sleep 101, she has a meeting with her professor who teaches the, “best sleep disorder program in the country,” and quickly becomes her research assistant. I guess this movie seems to believe that all sleep disorders stem from bad dreams? Yeah. Brains don’t work that way.
After leaving her professor she meets Silas Troy, a mysterious creeper that knows her name somehow. Anyway, he tells her she has a remarkable gift, gives his number, and then walks off screen.
They mention in exposition that Molly doesn’t sleep, FIVE TIMES. During the middle of the night,Surfer Guy surprises her in the kitchen, tells her he had a nightmare, mentions she doesn’t sleep AGAIN, and then also walks off screen. WHY CAN’T THIS MOVIE EVER FINISH A POINT?
So the next scene Molly is asleep (great writing there, way to underscore your point) and has a nightmare where she gets hit by a car driven by her own mother.
The next morning, Molly arrives at the sleep center, and then meets Rudy Blake, who cannot physically function around ladies. Hilarious, right? He bumbles around the lab showing her stuff, and says once the patients wake up she has to ask them questions, “but only the questions on this sheet, nothing else, it’s very important.” Hm, sounds important. As they sit and watch this apnea patient, his stats begin to “go off the charts!” He’s obviously having a nightmare, and goes into cardiac arrest. When Molly wakes him up, he turns to her and whispers, “She’s going to getcha,” AND THEN HE DIES.
She leaves as the paramedics arrive and Silas is waiting outside for her. He tells her dreams are more powerful than most people think and only she understands that. The scene ends again after two lines of dialogue and cuts to Molly glumly sitting at home. Her roommate, Brunette, gives her her phone number (why didn’t she have this before?) and proceeds to say the stupidest shit I have ever heard. She mentions having falling dreams a lot and asks, “if you don’t wake up in a dream before you die, do you really die?” Molly says no one really knows. I’m pretty sure everyone knows.
We cut to Molly sleeping again, fully clothed on top of the covers, laying plank style. She has another nightmare and we get to see the bad guy, the Hag, who looks like an orc from Peter Jackson’s LOTR, only with shitty makeup, who walks through flames so you can’t see how shitty her makeup is.
The next morning Molly meets again with her professor, who asks her why when the man at the clinic stopped breathing she thought it was more than apnea. Molly explains that her mother had a sleep disorder and got in a car accident, presumably because she fell asleep. The professor handles this information in the LEAST respectful way possible. “You were only eight and she left you in the house sleeping alone? Had she ever done that before? Where was she going? So you just woke up and she was gone?” The professor goads this poor girl with questions about her dead mother, until finally Molly LEAVES IN TEARS.
Afterwards, Molly meets Surfer Guy in the library and immediately they start with romancing piano music and hard flirting. It’s like they needed to shoehorn in a love story in a movieabout demon dreams and so just picked one of previously established male characters at random. They discuss his dream, which started out as a sex dream with Molly I should mention,and she thinks this is charming, instead of creepy and unwarranted. Even the actors seem embarrassed delivering this dialogue. He explains that the scary part was that it felt like someone was watching his dream, then she leaves in tears again.
Later, Molly is at home when Surfer Guy shows up with flowers and we get our half-hour mark sex scene. It’s awful and embarrassing and set to jungle/mystery music for no reason. Then we get another great dream sequence, where a purple Molly astral projects out of her body, while she gets strangled by zombie paper-mache hands. Then you think she wakes up, but the movie goes through some sort of Inception dream layers bullshit, ending with a little girl in Halloween ghoul makeup screaming.
When she FINALLY wake up, she heads to an abandoned factory which we find out is Silas’ home. He starts in immediately with the metaphysical bullshit. He says that other cultures believe that our world is really one of many that are filled with demons and shit. According to Silas, Freud (pronounced Freu-dee for no reason) was wrong about dreams. Dreams are really a gateway to these other worlds. He explains that the authors of Kubla Khan and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde got their ideas from dreams. He tells the story of a mute man who screamed during a nightmare. Then she just leaves. This movie has the worst case of, “I don’t know how to end this scene”-osis I’ve ever seen.
Later, Molly is giving the super important questionnaire to a patient at the clinic, who complains of difficulty breathing during the night. Molly ignores thequestionnaire, asking her what she saw and then tells her never to come back again. Being a sleep lab, everything is recorded, and Rudy Blake shows Dr. Professor the footage. Don’t worry, this isn’t important and takes a backseat for about 30 minutes.
Cut to Molly in bed, having a nightmare again. A computer-animated figure in a Jedi robe is flying around the room and purple Molly shows up again and tells real-dream Molly to wake up. A different real-dream Molly then wakes up in a coffin with a Plexiglas window because putting a camera in a closed coffin is hard. Then we cut back to the first real-dream Molly who’s being watched by the second real-dream Molly. Silas shows up and tells her to wake up. Finally all 3 of them wake up and real Molly finally wakes up. Did you get all that? Good.
Molly goes to see Silas to get some answers. He talks about being trained by a shaman in the mountains of Turkey to travel from reality to reality. He explains that he didn’t travel to her dream, but to another reality, where the Hag lives and Molly brought her into this reality somehow. She won’t returned to her reality until Molly is dead.
So finally we get somewhere with the Dr. Professor deal, long story short Molly gets fired as her assistant and banned from the clinic. While there we find out that Silas, the ex-protégée of Dr. Professor, who like the writer of this movie, just got released from a three year stay in a mental institution.
Cut to Brunette having a nightmare and, unsurprisingly, she dies. Molly goes to see crazy Silas. He assures her that she isn’t crazy (super reassuring). Molly has another nightmare of her mom’s crash, and wakes up in another dream, she sees her prone body with the little girl over her being generally menacing. Silas appears in the dream, and tells the little girl to take a hike. The girl uses psychic powers or something to throw Silas against the wall, while Molly screams at herself to wake up.
Everyone wakes up.
After dumping his head in a fish tank, (yeah.), Silas explains that when demon little girl threw him against the wall he psychically receives an exposition dump. The demon thing killed Molly’s grandmother, mom and now is trying to kill her. Oh, and she’s been killing women in Molly’s family for hundreds of years. Why? For revenge.
In a time before science (direct quote) the demon, called the Hag, could travel between worlds uninhibited. She sang lullabies to kids but accidentally trapped them in her world. They make sure to point out that the kids aren’t actually dead. No one saves them or anything, it was just necessary for some reason.
To save her own child, Molly ancestor trapped the Hag in another world and now she can only travel through dreams. She’s not going to stop killing other people until Molly is dead, so Molly is going to have to sack up and end her. She gets some mystical training from Silas, but during Silas ends up in coma.
While at the hospital, Molly sees Dr. Professor, no big surprise she thinks Molly is crazy. Pissed and ready to kick ass, Molly crosses over. The other world looks like her childhood home and inside is her mother post-car accident listening to the music box. Then gets border-line experimental and pretty awesome, the scene is an empty playground, but all the swings and seesaws are moving and children are laughing. Child Molly is running behind her mother begging her not to leave, while the mother walks into a field and disappears. Then Molly wakes up again. I don’t know why they didn’t just end the movie while she’s already in the dream world. Well, it’s because Lifetime movies need to be an hour and 30 minutes, but anyway.
Molly packs up and leaves the house to protect Surfer Guy, but then goes back home to cross over after he begins having a nightmare. I think these were scenes from different parts of the movie that they edited together. So after crossing over, she wakes up S.G. and sees the little girl (who surprise!) is child Molly who was(surprise!) really the Hag all along. Silas shows up and tells her she’s the only one who can stop her, and then we get the final confrontation. Molly opens up the music box, which releases blue orbs that set the Hag on fire.
This movie commits a huge pet peeve of mine. EVERYTHING is exposition, we are told everything that happens in this movie. And even when they show, they STILL tell. It also has this really bad habit of at establishing names, but bringing them up in conversation later. I was constantly wondering who these people they were all talking about even were. It seems that even the cast had trouble remembering the names, there was a lot of, “Uhhhhh, Carla.” The dream layers sequences are way too confusing. Just to give you an idea, I edited the part of this review following the death of Brunette THREE times to try and make it make more sense. Then I realized it was all the movie, the movie is just confusing as shit. It did get experimental at times, which I liked, but the dream layer sequences were so convoluted it took away from what could have just been weird, ambient scenes.