TIFF ’23: Sleep

When a pregnant Soo-jin (Jung Yu-mi) finds her husband, Hyun-su (Parasite’s Lee Sun-kyun), sleep talking one night, and when his actions in his sleep become increasingly harmful, she insists that they visit a doctor who diagnoses him with a sleep disorder. However, a shaman insists Hyun-su’s condition is supernatural. The couple does everything they can to find a cure for him so they can protect themselves and their unborn child, resulting in a lot of sleep tests for Hyun-su, and paranoid sleeplessness for Soo-jin. So yeah, Sleep is aptly named. In the film, we see a lot of it and simultaneously, not enough.

I randomly decided to walk into the screening of Sleep because I had so much free time, and I’m glad I did. This film is part of Midnight Madness at TIFF, but you don’t have to see it at midnight to be completely engulfed in its jumpy horror. With Sleep, director Jason Yu, keeps your attention- leaving you watching intently for what Hyun-su, or Soo-jin, will do next- and rewards that attention with jump scares, surprise turns and humour. Seriously, I imagine that all our faces in the theatre looked exactly like the faces of audience members in those cinema ads. This is a film that you make a trip with loved ones to go and see so that you’re scared, confused, and relieved together.

Jung Yu-mi and Lee Sun-kyun are great vehicles for the emotions and sometimes weirdness of the film, especially Jung Yu-mi who, prior to this, I only knew as the cheery, co-ordinated ‘nuna’ on reality show, Jinny’s Kitchen. We start off afraid for her because of her husband’s condition and as the film progresses and her mind unravels, afraid of her and she showcases both those states of mind brilliantly.

I can’t wait till this comes out so that I can watch my friends and family watch it.

Sleep is now playing at TIFF ’23. For more information, click here.

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