The Dead Sleep Soundly

An insomniac who drives through the streets of the city by night, making ends meet by working as a handyman during the day, he drifts through life watching others yet only connecting with them tangentially, they moving forwards while he moves in slow circles, observing but barely interacting, existing but not participating.

Seeking forgiveness for unspoken acts in his past, the woman for whom he is working tells him where to find her abusive ex and the father of her baby; inside the abandoned cinema he finds a girl who has been taken hostage by “Tex” and his friends, a group who call themselves “the Crusaders,” the drifter rescuing the girl but setting himself as a target for their revenge.

A micro-budget horror thriller written and directed by Creature in the Dark’s Jacob Perrett from a story by Taylor Rhoades who stars as Tex, The Dead Sleep Soundly flows like a bizarre dream through abstract scenes and locations, seen through the half-closed eyes of the perpetually hazed drifter (Derric Hyde), mumbling meaningless conversations with characters with no names and using self-help tapes to meditate himself into oblivion.

Seeing himself as the tragic hero of his own story, redeemed by helping others, how much of his dual life is real and how much imagined, matching paint colours by day then rifling through the drawers of his employer and stealing her sleeping pills like some creeper while she is out, driving the darkened streets as though he were a knight on a holy quest, the excitement of his nocturnal purpose a counterpoint to his mundane and insignificant days?

The girl seemingly equally indifferent to both her captivity and her rescue, competing with Hyde to see whose dialogue can be less intelligible Rose Spencer just about wins, though her more useful skills extend to makeshift first aid, patching him up with kitchen towels and packing tape when he is stabbed with a knife, the Crusaders otherwise preferring to use swords even in confined spaces for reasons which are presumably ceremonial rather than practical.

The drifter conveniently having his theme music on tape for whenever the situation calls for it, the dark synthwave soundtrack is perhaps the best thing about The Dead Sleep Soundly, the technical limitations meaning Perrett and Rhoades’ ideas don’t translate to the screen as well as they might, fight scenes in darkened rooms and abrupt editing making the action as murky and impenetrable as the motivations of the compromised and unforthcoming characters.



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