Available now on VOD and in select theaters is director Rodney Ascher‘s horror documentary The Nightmare. The film premiered at Sundance earlier this year and has played others including SXSW and Stanley Film Festival since. Built upon the first-hand recollections of eight people who suffer from sleep paralysis and intercut with expertly staged recreations of their experiences, Ascher’s follow-up to the excellent Room 237 is a visceral and terrifying delve into a phenomenal horror of the mind.
While some may criticize the doc for lacking a scientific approach (a fair criticism, to be sure), I find Ascher’s method of letting the afflicted tell their story to be extremely effective. By intentionally focusing on the “what?” rather than the “why?”, Ascher frees viewers to experience these horrific accounts of sleep paralysis and his superb dramatizations instead of trying too hard to rationalize them. The goal is not to educate the audience on potential logical explanations for the phenomenon. It’s to scare the living hell out of them. In this regard, The Nightmare is a resounding success. Turn off the lights, your phone, your laptop, your need to find a scientific explanation for everything, and just watch it. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Maybe a little hesitant to go to bed, but not disappointed.
A disturbing recommendation in hand, let’s get to this week’s Top 5:
1. SPY Interviews and Review
I couldn’t be happier to see Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy’s Spy killing it in the court of critical opinion. The two are genuine talents who I love to see succeed but, on a selfish note, I really just need a great comedy in my life and everything I’ve seen and read about the film assures me it’s just that. To see and hear a little more about the pic for yourself, check out Perri’s review, watch Steve play “Save or Kill” and talk with the cast about their favorite bad movies, and read Perri’s editorial on how McCarthy’s characters don’t have to be dumb to be funny.
2. First Trailer for Steven Spielberg’s BRIDGE OF SPIES
Dreamworks and Fox 2000 released the first trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies this week and it looks about as compelling and resonant as you would expect a Spielberg film, starring Tom Hanks, with a script co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen (alongside Matt Charman) to look. After you’ve watched the trailer and calibrated your list of awards season frontrunners accordingly, you should also take a look at Haleigh’s “12 Things to Know” about the film.
3. VACATION Set Visit Coverage and New Trailer
Later this summer, New Line will release the latest entry in the Vacation franchise with the appropriately titled sequel, Vacation. Matt visited the film’s set last October and, in preparation for said release, graced the site this past week with “28 Things to Know” about the film and set interviews with Ed Helms and Christina Applegate. In addition to all of the above, New Line also gave us a new trailer for the pic this week. While it’s not as funny as its red-band predecessor, it does reinforce my belief that Steele Stebbins will be a scene stealer as little Kevin Griswold.
4. ENTOURAGE Interviews, 20 Things to Know, and More
After several years of anticipation, fans of HBO’s Entourage finally get to see their beloved crew on the silver screen. The Entourage movie premiered on Wednesday and while the critical consensus hasn’t been great, that should do little to sway series regulars from enjoying what it brings to the table. Whether you’ve already watched it or you need some light reading to carry you over until you have a chance to make it to the theater, I recommend perusing through our recent coverage of the film: “20 Things to Know” about the movie; Steve’s video interview with series creator and director Doug Ellin; his set visit interviews with Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly, and Adrian Grenier; and Chris’ look at ten great movies about filmmaking not named Entourage.
5. AUSTIN POWERS: Does It Hold Up?
Adam introduced a new semi-regular feature this week entitled “Does It Hold Up?” in which he’ll revisit past films to see how they’ve aged. His first subject? 1997’s Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. It became part of the pop culture lexicon upon release but, nearly twenty years after the fact, is it still funny? Do we still care about it? Are you considered lame and/or dated if you reference it today? Take a gander at this first installation of “Does It Hold Up?” for Adam’s thoughts.