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  In Their Sleep She Drove All Night
Year: 2010
Director: Caroline du Potet, Éric du Potet
Stars: Anne Parillaud, Arthur Dupont, Thierry Frémont, Jean-Hugues Anglade
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A year ago, Sarah (Anne Parillaud) had moved out to the countryside with her husband and teenage son for a break from the rat race, thinking the bucolic idyll would supply some peace of mind. Alas, her son was not so pleased with the situation and complained bitterly about ending up in the middle of nowhere, though her husband said he would get used to it eventually. So when the boy was meant to be studying for his exams, he tired of the cramming and went downstairs, announcing he was going out for an hour. When his parents forbade him, he returned to his room and unbeknownst to them tried to sneak out of the window...

That's where a rather absurd accident befalls him as he loses his footing and ends up impaled on some spikes which happened to be down below the window, and we jump forward to the year later where Sarah's husband (played by Jean-Hugues Anglade in a brief nod to their pairing in Nikita) has long ago left her to gradually crack up alone. She has a job in a hospital, but in her choice to lose herself in her work to forget about her tragedy she has taken on so many of her colleagues' tasks that her health is suffering nonetheless and on the night the rest of the plot takes place, she has been sent home to rest.

This is where she meets the other main character who appeals to her bruised maternal instincts, a young man called Arthur who she runs into on the way back to her house. No, really, she literally runs into him with her car, though it was his own stupid fault for leaping out in front of her from the darkness of the undegrowth. Feeling that old guilt re-emerging, she picks him up and puts him in her car, and it is at this point where you have to make a choice whether to believe everything you see or not, because In Their Sleep was one of those movies where there was a twist with the perception, which meant the way the first half hour played was not necessarily going to be the way the rest of it did.

In that fashion, this was a sort of Funny Games lite, as not only were there those accumulations of scenes to put different spins on what you had already seen, there were also variations on those scenes which in practice meant there were two endings you could choose from. Given the film opens with a shot of Sarah lying in a field with ants crawling over her, that could well be an indication of what her eventual fate was, though from that introduction you don't know whether she is alive or dead: the following plot will help you make up your mind, but you can be assured whatever state she is in she has not had a very good night. Which actually renders it a lot less surprising than you might expect.

Or might have been intended, for that matter. In Their Sleep, or Dans ton sommeil as it was known originally, was one of that twenty-first century new wave of horrors out of France, and while not as extreme as some of its fellows it did contain some rather grim shots, concerning as it did as a major plot point the wiping out of a whole family. Sister and brother directing double act Caroline du Potet and Éric du Potet made a debut which could be described as confident, certainly in their staging of suspense, but their script needed a little work as you could observe this was a lot less shocking than they seemed to think it was thanks to it not really doing enough with the home invasion notion than could have been the case: contrast it with its equally Gallic contemporary Inside and you would see how much could be done with a simple premise if the filmmakers were willing to really go nuts with their ideas. Nevertherless, this did not outstay its welcome with a running time barely eighty minutes long, though a final attempt at poetry was a step too far. Music by Éric Neveux.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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