Sleep is becoming one of the crisis points of late modernity, as the steady encroachment of the “24/7” plugged-in world only intensifies sleep’s already uncanny nature.[i] To sleep is to slip into a realm of darkness, irrationality, and the supernatural, a realm that is not only profoundly opposed to the contemporary illuminated world but that has always lain uncomfortably close to death. Indeed, the Western way of sleeping has been described as a “lie down and die” model.[ii] To walk or talk while sleeping, in particular, is to act in ways divorced from the world of light and reason, to act without volition and the consent of the mind. The body that acts becomes something other than the person it appears to be, producing uncanny doubles and evoking the profoundly uncanny uncertainty as to whether, as philosopher Dylan Trigg puts it, “‘I’ am truly identifiable with my body itself.”[iii] Horror films in the twenty-first century in particular have turned to sleep to exploit its inherent uncanniness and the way it suggests that we are not always in control of who we are and what we do.
NR | 72 min | Justin Doescher | (USA) | 2016
I watch a lot of horror films, including as many independent productions as I can. I forget many of them shortly after finishing them. I never make it through many others. But sometimes I find one that really surprises me—and those are the ones I tend to write about.
The Break-In, written and directed by Justin Doescher (who also stars), was such a surprising film: it pulled me in, made me want to keep watching—and then came at me with an ending I did not see coming and that I’ve been thinking about ever since. The Break-In is definitely low-budget, but if you’re mulling over whether or not to watch this film or spend the big bucks for the latest high-profile theatrical release, The Darkness, stay home and rent The Break-In.
As a testament to how interesting I think this film is, there are two parts to this review. Read the first part before you watch the film, and hopefully it’ll make you want to watch. The second half, below the big “Spoiler Alert,” are my thoughts on the film in light of its ending. You should come back and read that part after you’ve watched the film. Read more