Don't Sleep

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Don't Sleep Movie Poster Image
Extremely poor horror movie is more annoying than scary.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Too confused to offer any real messages -- or anything thoughtful at all.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No fully formed characters here; no one even acts like a real human being.


A child experiences nightmares and is in peril; bloody cut on a child's chest. Child experiences electroshock therapy. Blood spurt. Creepy images: a disturbing/burned woman eating something in her arms, a scary girl in a mask, a ghost boy. Injured dog. Characters die. A character commits suicide. Some fighting, arguing, shouting. Child bites a man's face. Severed head. Child's disturbing drawings of death and murder.


Three sex scenes; no graphic nudity. Bra removed. Woman undresses, keeps private parts covered. Innuendo. Couples kiss/nuzzle.


Several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus uses of "ass," "piss," "balls," "nuts," "crap," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine at dinner. Friends drink beers.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Don't Sleep is a horror movie about a man who re-experiences the horrible nightmares he suffered as a child, which make their way into his real life. Expect several disturbing scenes of violence, nightmare images, and a child in jeopardy (as well as receiving electroshock therapy), plus some blood, a severed head, and a suicide. Several characters die. There are several sex/seduction scenes, but they're usually shown in close-up, with no nudity whatsoever. Characters do kiss, and there's a line of innuendo. Language is strong, with many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus other words. Some social drinking is shown. Not only is the movie poorly made, but it feels out of touch, as if it were made by someone who had never spent time with human beings before.

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What's the story?

In DON'T SLEEP, Zach (Dominic Sherwood) and Shawn (Charlbi Dean Kriek) are a young couple looking to rent their first house. They find it just across the street from their new landlords, Vincent (Alex Carter) and Jo Marino (Drea de Matteo). No sooner do Zach and Shawn settle in than Shawn starts having nightmares -- the same type he had when he was a kid. He revisits his old therapist (Cary Elwes), but things get worse, and he begins to see ghosts during the daytime, too. Then Vincent's father (Alex Rocco) commits suicide, and Shawn experiences an actual, physical attack. Can he get to the bottom of his nightmares before it's too late?

Is it any good?

This cheap-looking, poorly acted horror movie makes absolutely no sense and is far more awkward and annoying than scary; it falls directly into that "what the heck were they thinking?" category. Don't Sleep opens with a Nietzsche quote that doesn't seem to pertain to anything. Then, the characters' behavior is so unlike anything remotely human that it could leave viewers unsettled in a way the movie didn't intend. The main character is supposed to be a law student, but he looks like he spends far more time in front of a mirror, fixing his floppy hair and three-day scruff, than he does studying.

Everyone else -- including the main character's mother and best friend -- constantly acts suspicious and/or guilty, regularly saying oddly inappropriate things. The movie's sound mix leaves quite a bit to be desired, and it relies on cheap digital effects and jump scares, as well as completely illogical red herrings that are rendered null and void when the final reveal happens. Even the closing credits are strange, with an ill-fitting song and still photos from the movie. It's a shame that this was the final movie performance by the late Rocco (The Godfather); he deserved better.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Don't Sleep's violence. How intense is it? How much blood is shown? How much of it revolves around children? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies?

  • How is sex represented in the movie? Are the relationships loving?

  • Have you ever had recurring or disturbing nightmares? How did you deal with them?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

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