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The Nightmare: A Chilling Dive into the World of Sleep Paralysis

"The Nightmare" is a chilling exploration of sleep paralysis, blurring the lines between documentary and horror.

Keywords: Sleep Paralysis, Fear, Hallucinations, Sleep Disorders, Psychological Impact, Rodney Ascher, Documentary


"The Nightmare," a 2015 documentary directed by Rodney Ascher, explores the frightening condition of sleep paralysis that haunts many people worldwide. In an era where mental health and sleep disorders are increasingly recognized as critical health issues, this documentary provides a unique perspective on a rarely discussed topic.


"The Nightmare" dives into the lives of eight individuals tormented by sleep paralysis, an unsettling condition where a person is conscious but cannot move or speak during falling asleep or awakening. The documentary unfolds their chilling experiences with the supernatural and the impact on their daily lives.

More film analysis


Ascher’s approach is a blend of observational and participatory styles. The documentary effectively uses first-person accounts, maintaining a strong sense of authenticity. The research is commendable, and the exploration of the subject is both deep and empathetic.

Historical and Factual Context:

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that has been documented for centuries and can be found in various cultural folklore and literature. It's a type of parasomnia, an unwanted event that happens while falling asleep, sleeping, or waking up.

Key themes in the film:

  • The struggle of living with sleep disorders
  • The thin line between reality and hallucinations
  • The psychological impact of fear

Film Comparisons:

Unlike other films on iWonder that primarily focus on societal or political issues, "The Nightmare" stands out with its exploration of a personal, psychological subject.

Noteworthy Moments:

The documentary is filled with intense moments where the subjects recount their terrifying experiences, often accompanied by vivid reenactments.


"The Nightmare" received a mixed response from audiences and critics. While some praised its unique approach, others described it as more of a horror film than a documentary.


"The Nightmare" offers a rare look into the world of sleep paralysis, making it an engaging watch for anyone interested in psychological or medical documentaries.

More film information

IMDB: 5.7
Awards: 4 nominations: Cinema Eye Honors Awards, Moscow International Film Festival, iHorror Awards

Rodney Ascher - The Director
The eight individuals battling sleep paralysis

USA: Various home settings where the subjects experience sleep paralysis

Links for further exploration

  1. Sleep Paralysis - Wikipedia:
  2. Understanding Sleep Paralysis - WebMD:
  3. Sleep Disorders - Healthline:

Key Questions Raised by the Film:

What is the scientific explanation behind sleep paralysis?

How can we better support people suffering from sleep disorders?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form:

Book: "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" because both delve into the exploration of fear and the subconscious mind..

Song: "Enter Sandman" by Metallica, a song that talks about nightmares.

Art: "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, a representation of intense psychological anguish.

Celebrity: Stephen King, known for his horror and suspense work.

Colour: Black, representing the fear and unknown.

Music Style: Suspenseful orchestral music, symbolizing the tension and fear experienced during sleep paralysis.