This is a rather frustrating and, ultimately, disappointing movie considering that its first 20 minutes offer a slow tension-building French style atmosphere with an intriguing plot development. However, after that it descended into an ordinary (if rather horrible) thriller.
Our heroine, Sarah (Anne Parillaud) had persuaded her family to move out of town to a remote and dilapidated country cottage. Her husband (Jean-Hugues Anglade) spends all his time on DIY projects to get the cottage up to scratch while son Loïc swots away at his books for his forthcoming exams. The day before these exams Loïc announces to his parents that he was giving-up the studying and going out for the evening (where to, it was difficult to say). This causes a furore and,or aggressive after a breakout has happened. This will let the trader cash in some huge profits in the market.
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led by his mother Sarah, was told in no uncertain terms to get back to his books. He doesn’t take kindly to this and soon climbs out of the window, slips and – with a foretaste of the rest of the movie – impales himself on several nasty-looking steel rods from the building work. Exit Loïc in a bloody mess.
Cut to Sarah, a year later, in her job as a hospital nurse where, still grieving for Loïc and consumed by intense guilt in her part in his death, her work is deteriorating to such an extent that her supervisor tells her to go home in the middle of her night shift. She drives off in the dark, down deserted roads in the middle of a forest… so we can guess something is about to happen and, of course, it does. Not quite what we expected, as she is stopped by the police who are looking for a thief who has broken-in to some houses in the neighbourhood.
Her papers are okay, and she drives on but very soon a wildly gesticulating young man rushes out of the bushes holding up his hand for her to stop, which she can’t quite do. She helps him into the car (and we start to see her brain thinking ‘Loïc replacement’), where he tells her that an intruder broke into his house and is now chasing him to kill him to prevent him revealing his identity. She invites him to her house and they drive off. Soon they are chased by another car driven by a maniacally looking injured man – the intruder, the young man says. He gives up the pursuit and the young man, Arthur (Arthur Dupont) – not a good sign for me when the character has the same name as the actor – and Sarah reach the isolated cottage and bed-down – in separate rooms – for the night.
The maniacal driver (Thierry Frémont), as we expected, returns and after much ado there is a bloody finale where Sarah kills him to protect Arthur. Flashback to the incident with Arthur and maniac driver and their encounter in the broken-into house, and with some obscenely horrible violent scenes the truth is revealed. We now follow Arthur and Sarah, who still thinks Arthur is a surrogate Loïc. And so the interesting bit of the movie is over and we now have a conventional story of single woman in lonely place in the dark with stranger. Suffice it to say that the directors (Caroline and Éric du Potet) give us two alternative paths for Sarah to take and she takes the one which is signposted right at the start of the movie.
What the point of In Their Sleep (aka: Dans ton sommeil) is, I cannot make out. Perhaps it is: one should move on, no matter the grief, and don’t think that you can create a substitute for the missing one, because you can’t. Too much violence and gore with some of it being, to my mind, unacceptably revolting, to illustrate these simple truths.