In “Come Away,” now on VOD, Julia Sarah Stone plays Sarah, a young woman with a sleeping problem. A teen runaway, she splits her time between crashing at her friend Zoe (Tedra Rogers) and sleeping in the park. No matter where she lays her head she never gets enough sleep. Terrible nightmares keep her awake, leaving her on the brink of exhaustion all the time. No amount of coffee can keep her eyes open, and she’s even started dozing off in class, earning jeers from her classmates.
Tired of waking up tired, she signs on for a month-long university sleep experiment. Not only will it provide a comfortable place to sleep every night but she’ll also make some money acting as a guinea pig for a team of graduate students, including Jeremy (Landon Liboiron) and the mysterious Dr. Meyer (Christopher Heatherington). Outfitted with futuristic looking head gear, she settles in each night and at first she feels more rested than before. But as the experiment goes on the nightmares take hold, opening up a terrifying window into her psyche as she begins to wonder what the point of the science project actually is. “I think your science project is f***ing me up,” she says.
If you are someone whose worst nightmare is waking up next to someone who says, “I had the weirdest dream last night,” and proceeds to tell you all about, “Come True” might not be your cup of Ambien. If, however, the existential horror of a mind run amok during sleep fascinates you, then seek it out.
Director Anthony Scott Burns takes an icy, voyeuristic approach to the material, staging scenes of nightmarish terror and the clinical reaction to the patient’s deepest thoughts with an aloofness that relies on atmospherics to create the film’s uneasy vibe. It is ethereally effective, particularly when coupled with Burns’ eerie composed score.
The dreamscape scares are cerebral. Imagine if David Cronenberg had directed “Nightmare on Elm Street” instead of Wes Craven and you’ll get the idea, but the film is let down by an ending that doesn’t do what came before it justice.