The Sleeping Room, 2014.
Directed by John Shackleton.
Starring Julie Graham, Leila Mimmack, David Sibley, Christopher Adamson, Joseph Beattie, Chris Waller and Billy Chainsaw.
A Brighton call-girl and her client awaken a ghostly presence in an old Victorian brothel.
Set in the Sussex coastal town of Brighton, The Sleeping Room stars Leila Mimmack (Becoming Human) as Blue, a young prostitute who is sent on a job by her boss Cynthia (Julie Graham – Tower Block) to meet with Bill. Bill (Joseph Beattie – Velvet Goldmine) is renovating an old Victorian brothel for a client but the building has a dark history, one that Blue and Bill delve into once they discover a two-way mirror that backs onto a secret ‘sleeping room’, a place where the in-house prostitutes of the day would sleep between jobs. However, what they discover about the brothel and its previous owner Fiskin (Christopher Adamson – Razor Blade Smile) reveals a history of incest and abuse that connects directly to Blue and also begins to have an effect on Bill.
Directed by John Shackleton and co-written by Shackleton, Ross Jameson and Alex Chandon (Cradle of Fear/Pervirella), The Sleeping Room presents Victorian gothic horror set against a background of modern socialist realism that offers up a fairly unique take on what is essentially a traditional ghost story at heart. The use of Victorian Mutoscopes in horror films always adds a bit of authenticity with their flickering sepia images and suggestions of wrongdoing, and here the filmmakers make good use of one to help set the scene of forbidden perversion without ever going too explicit. The seaside setting is also the perfect location to provide a backdrop for the film, the burnt remains of Brighton’s West Pier casting a spectre of Victorian decadence over the unfolding mystery.
But while The Sleeping Room does a lot of good with its setting, imagery and direction, it does let itself down in other areas, the biggest problem being the lack of budget. The short running time works in its favour as it doesn’t outstay its welcome but the decline of the script into cliché in the final act and the cop-out ending suggest that things were rushed to get the film wrapped, when a bit more cash in the kitty may have given the filmmakers a bit more of an opportunity to develop things a little further and round things off a little more smoothly. The acting is fairly good for the most part, with Julie Graham, Christopher Adamson and David Sibley giving the strongest performances, and although it’s left to Leila Mimmack and Joseph Beattie to carry the bulk of the story they do an admirable but slightly inconsistent job, with certain line deliveries falling completely flat during otherwise solid scenes. Overall though, The Sleeping Room offers enough of an atmosphere and sense of intrigue to make it worth checking out if ghost stories are your thing.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★