Channeling Sissy Spacek in "Carrie," lanky redhead Antonia Campbell-Hughes plays a haunted sleepwalker in the tale of a somnambulist factory worker plagued by a local woman's recent death -- and by the disappearance of her own mom 20 years before.
Channeling Sissy Spacek in “Carrie,” lanky redhead Antonia Campbell-Hughes plays a haunted sleepwalker in “The Other Side of Sleep,” which fails to lend sufficient surreality to the tale of a somnambulist factory worker plagued by a local woman’s recent death — and by the disappearance of her own mom 20 years before. Drowsy but never hypnotic, “Sleep” stumbles on account of an utterly uninvolving protagonist, and first-time director Rebecca Daly’s reluctance to go all the way, or even halfway, with her potentially trippy premise. Fans of the phantasmagorical in sleepwalk cinema should stick to Maya Deren’s “Meshes of the Afternoon.”
Daly’s pic opens promisingly with puffy-eyed, ponytailed Arlene (Campbell-Hughes) awakening in the rural Irish woods beside the fresh corpse of a fellow young femme (Zsuzsa Varga). Alas, nothing much happens from here, neither in the murder-mystery realm, nor within the kind of psychedelic dreamscape that the film’s heroine would seem well suited to represent. Sharp HD lensing in low light — along with the occasional use of slo-mo and a perpetual low-bass thump on the soundtrack — isn’t quite enough to make a narratively and thematically tired pic feel more than listless.