Thursday, 11 June 2015

REVIEW - THE NIGHTMARE (RODNEY ASCHER)


Beware this man! The reality you think you know is under scrutiny, and Rodney Ascher is chairing the inquiry. In his boundless curiosity and imagination, the questions he poses bring up only further questions in response, and that uncertainty would be the scariest feature of almost any other film. The Nightmare, however, is brutally scary in so many other ways, though this nightmare is designed so as not to finish when the film does - you remain in its dreamworld, brilliantly realised in recreation sequences, fearing your possible paralysed immersion into it some night soon, and all the time continuing to question the nature of what you perceive as reality. Ascher's documentary is crafted not to inform our intellect but our emotions, and, in engendering fear, it does so with horrible efficiency - from there, an unrelenting strain of visual and audio elements, wide-ranging in their content but of a singular purpose between them, assault our captive minds, as though ourselves in a terrifying dream of Ascher's own. Yet this is no dream - most frighteningly of all, and what will linger longer than even the cruellest of terrors inflicted on us here, is that this is a regular reality for a great many people, and their documentary recollections provide the fertile foundations for what these filmmakers' imaginations can concoct. Ascher's proclivity to probe serves him well until the film demands an even more pressing approach, and his non-judgemental attitude is too forgiving toward the end, as The Nightmare begins to offer analytical 'solutions' whose transparency betrays the lack of analysis that lies behind them. It's not even the perfect film that it could have been, never mind a perfect film period, but it is outstandingly effective as a horror film, and illuminating as a documentary. A unique, unforgettable experience. Sweet dreams...