By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Unsettling sci-fi/horror about nightmares has blood, sex.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Given its strange ending, it's difficult to say that this movie was trying to get a message across; it's more like an experience. It's more about dreams and emotions than ideas.
Positive Role Models
As sympathetic as Sarah is, it's difficult to consider her a role model. She's clearly very troubled, and while she's brave enough to seek help, there's no clear payoff. The other major character could be accused of some iffy ethics, in that he gets personally involved with his test subject.
Violence & Scariness
Gory sequence: One character has squished another's eyes (bloody eye sockets, blood spatters everywhere). Many creepy, grainy scenes of nightmares with strange imagery: a dark figure with glowing eyes, a figure melting, suspended bodies, a creature made entirely of legs, etc. Watching Night of the Living Dead in a movie theater (stabbing, screaming). Main character bleeds from her eyes; red, injured-looking eye. Vampire imagery in dream, with sharp teeth, sucking blood, etc. Characters panicking, terrified.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing and sex, with thrusting shown. Sex is interrupted. Bare male bottom briefly seen. Brief, shadowy glimpse of a fully naked man, from the front.
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Several uses of "f--k." Middle-finger gesture.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Come True is a sci-fi/horror movie about a teen runaway (Julia Sarah Stone) who volunteers for a sleep study and finds her reality becoming stranger and stranger. It's a very arty movie, and it's often unsettling, but it's so striking and confident that it's worth a look for curious mature viewers. Expect scenes with blood and gore -- notably, there's a shocking sequence of gouged eyeballs and a character spattered with blood. There's also lots of creepy, nightmarish imagery, including a sinister figure with glowing eyes, bleeding from a character's eyes, a clip from Night of the Living Dead (screaming and stabbing), and vampire imagery (sharp teeth, biting, sucking blood). Two characters kiss and have simulated sex, with a man thrusting on top. The man's bare bottom is seen; his naked front is also briefly visible, but in shadow. Language includes several uses of "f--k," and there's a middle-finger gesture.
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What's the Story?
In COME TRUE, teen Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone) has run away from home and is sleeping at a local playground. That, combined with creepy nightmares, begins to take a toll: She can barely stay awake in school. She finds a possible solution when she spots an ad for a university sleep study, offering a place to spend the night and hopefully a cure for her nightmares. She meets one of the students in charge of the study, Riff (Landon Liboiron), and they're quickly drawn to each other. Even though it could jeopardize the study, Riff tells her that the students are actually watching the volunteers' dreams on video monitors. The purpose is to study a strange, glowing-eyed creature that seems to emerge in separate dreams at about the same time. But the deeper Sarah goes into this journey, the weirder things get.
Is It Any Good?
This sci-fi/horror tale pays homage to horror masters of the 1980s and earlier, while also boasting enough confidence and command to advance into something fresh, startling, and surprising. There are several references to the late George A. Romero in Come True, including a clip of Night of the Living Dead, a character wearing Romero's trademark big black glasses, and a "Romero" T-shirt. The humming, sinister electronic music recalls John Carpenter, and the clinical, gray-green visual tone (and strange costumes) brings to mind David Cronenberg. Yet director/co-writer Anthony Scott Burns -- who also provided the cinematography and co-composed the music -- isn't just copying his predecessors: He has clearly learned from them.
The screenplay (based on a story by Daniel Weissenberger) has plenty of brain-bending twists that keep burrowing deeper, rather than providing a single shock. The flickering, twitching, black-and-white nightmare images are real beauties, meant to provide a slow, eerie quality rather than spine tingles. And a long, striking sequence with a monitor hooked up to a sleepwalker becomes ever more breathless as it progresses into the darkness. But the real key to Come True is Stone (of The Killing) as Sarah: Her wispy, punk-rock hair and wide-set, haunted eyes make her feel vulnerable -- and deeply sympathetic. This is an odd film that's often a bit queasy, but it's ultimately quite powerful.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Come True's violence. How much is shown, and how intense is it? How did it affect you? Could the story have been told without it?
How is sex depicted? What values are imparted?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies? Why do people sometimes like to be scared?
What do you think the movie's ending means? How does it reflect back on the rest of the story?
- In theaters: March 12, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: March 12, 2021
- Cast: Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron, Carlee Ryski
- Director: Anthony Scott Burns
- Studio: IFC Midnight
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
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