Come True (2021)

Anthony Scott Burns

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron, Carlee Ryski, Christopher Heatherington, Tedra Rogers

There's something calming about sleep, when our head hits the pillow and drifts us off into a calm slumber. It's supposed to be our safe space, yet cinema has dealt with the idea of danger lurking within, most notably in A Nightmare On Elm Street and it's subsequent follow-ups. There's no worries about bringing to mind such iconic films, for this tale about horrific nightmares stands on it's own. Teenage runaway Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone) finds herself plagued with terrifying nightmares, so signs up for a university sleep study. Sarah's priority is to not sleep on the streets, only for the nightmares to become worse, and channel a discovery even more horrifying.

Based on a story by Daniel Weissenberger, director Anthony Scott Burns also writes the screenplay, with the former best showcasing his strengths. The strongest moments are whenever the feature dives into the dreamscape, offering the most fascinating elements. As we see creepy visuals shrouded in darkness while set to an unnerving score, there's no doubt it's directed with a strong sense of style. As the film leaves the dreamscape, the unsettling nature sticks around, with dread being drawn from two people merely sitting up in bed. Aiding matters are an excellent synth-score and stylish lighting, which does wonders in capturing the mood.

In the lead role, Julia Sarah Stone does excellent work where the writing lets things down. She captures how lost and unsure of herself Sarah is, adding layers to an unfortunately hollow character, estranged from her mother for reasons we never discover. She finds a friend and confidant in Jeremy, the scientist who is overseeing the study, and one can't shake how the character's usefulness amounts to expository dialogue, and being part of an unnecessary romance. This unnecessary element takes prominence in the third act, where Sarah has to clarify she's 18-years old just moments before a sex-scene, highlighting how rushed this idea was.

What's sad is how more commonplace this issue becomes as things move closer to the end. In the midst of genuinely creepy moments, the story is barraged by ideas which feel underdeveloped, and struggle to come together. In spite of the first two acts being genuinely interesting, it's hard to shake the feeling of disappointment when they're followed by such a mess. The biggest shame is how it all wraps up, feeling like an attempt to deliver an answer for audiences, yet coming off as a frustrating cop-out which leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Come True is available on Digital Download from 15th March, and on Limited Edition Blu-Ray from 5th April