Chasing Sleep

Chasing Sleep (2000)
Trimark Home Video
Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Bergl, Gil Bellows
Extras: Trailer

Somewhere between Franz Kafka, David Lynch, and a plumber’s nightmare exists the film ’Chasing Sleep’. Jeff Daniels stars in this eerie thriller as Ed Saxon, a man who wakes in the night to find that his wife hasn’t come home from work. He calls her job, her friends, and the police, but no one can seem to help him. To make matters worse, all of the anxiety surrounding the disappearance is making it impossible for Ed to sleep, no matter how many tranquilizers he takes. His house is full of holes and leaky pipes, giving one the sense that something sinister has happened here. A sympathetic cop (Gil Bellows) and a concerned student (Emily Bergl), try to help Ed, but his insomnia appears to be driving him mad. Ed must come to grips with his conscience and confront the fact that he may not have known his wife very well.

I found ’Chasing Sleep’ to be a very intriguing thriller. The viewer is placed where we have no idea what is going on. Is Ed crazy? Is there a conspiracy against him? Having seen films which were similar in nature, ’Chasing Sleep’ drew me in as I tried to guess what was going to happen next. The film reminded me very much of a David Lynch film, with its repetitive visuals and its creative sound design. The pace is a bit slow at times and the ending is confusing, but otherwise, the movie had me hooked. Be warned, there is one scene that is one of the most disturbing things that I’ve seen in a while. After that scene, ’Chasing Sleep’ may have me losing sleep.

’Chasing Sleep’ pops out of bed and onto DVD courtesy of Lion’s Gate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1, but is not enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is clear, but a bit hazy, showing some ringing artifacts at times. Colors here are natural and true, but the overall color scheme here is brown, so the colors can be hard to judge at times. The audio on this DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix which is quite good. As noted above, a great deal of attention has gone into the sound in ’Chasing Sleep’ and that work comes through in this mix. Surround sound and the subwoofer are used very subtely, but effectively throughout the film, helping to evoke the creepy mood of the piece. The dialogue is clear and the minimal score sounds fine. The only extra on this DVD is the trailer for ’Chasing Sleep’, which is presented full-frame. Interestingly, this trailer makes the movie look like a straight-forward thriller, as opposed to a disturbing mind-warp.