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  • Nate Adams

Review: Unsettling 'Come True' a polarizing exercise in sleep study

Courtesy of IFC Midnight


A slow, steady descent into sleep depravity and paralysis, Anthony Scott Burns’ odd and eerily intoxicating “Come True” molds a haunting exercise out of ambition. Burns – who wrote/produced/edited – creates an intriguing world from scratch like a cross between “A Scanner Darkly'' and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” The idea of studying our dreams and how they bleed into modern day is a fascinating concept that doesn’t always land – plus an ambiguous ending sure to polarize audiences – but “Come True” consistently stimulates the mind whether we like it or not.

The story is grounded by Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone – exceptional), a high school student who comes from an abusive family, often spending the night with friends to avoid confrontation. Sarah is plagued with insomnia, so when an ad circulates for a sleep study, she feels like the perfect candidate. Little is known about the “study” and when pressed, the scientists shrug it off. Turns out, the facilitators can watch Sarah’s dreams through a boxed television screen, which Burns uses to his advantage, creating a swath of fuzzy, bizarre imagery.

Pumped with an electric score by Pilotpriest and Electric Youth that enhances our senses by continuing to blur the line between fiction and reality, “Come True” also molds Sarah as a character worth understanding. Burns is wise to build his sprawling narrative around her and the Neon afterglow that tints in the background helps bridge emotional gaps. But what’s compelling about “Come True” is how it subverts expectations and detours from the usual gamut of indie cliché’s that hurt rather than progress the story.

Sure, Burns fields an oddball ending that creates more head-scratching questions, but there’s no denying the boldness in approach. “Honey Bee” standout Stone gets major kudos for anchoring the emotional complexity of her character, and though some will ponder the overall themes of the movie (especially that final shot) whichever way you slice it, “Come True” is a nightmare you surprisingly don’t want to wake up from.

Grade: B



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