Come True – Review

Screenplay & Directed by Anthony Scott Burns

Story by Daniel Weissenberger

Canada/2020/105mins

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Those unfortunate enough to experience night terrors, or are familiar with the histories fascination with sleep such as Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare, will recognise the significant power held in our minds as we sleep. Escaping a nightmare is a life-long struggle, and when Sarah finds the opportunity to understand hers and a warm bed for the night, she engages in a sleep study. But something seems off about these night-time horrors, to both the scientists and Sarah, as these persistent visions seem a touch more tangible than the usual bad dream. 

Layered, the narrative for Anthony Scott Burn’s Come True begins as expected as Sarah struggles both with everyday life and sleep. While Burn’s script never offers up entire pieces of the puzzle, enough is there to construct a vague image. The real story exists in the here and now, rather than Sarah’s past, as she begins to suspect there is something else going on – not only in her mind, but with the intenstions of those preaching to help her. 

The intricacies of the script masquerade much of the film’s problems, and those not seeking to dive into the whys and backgrounds of Sarah’s thoughts and experiences will appreciate the intimacy of the film. Otherwise, some audience’s may find frustrations with the film’s inability to provide answers and generalise the more intense aspects of the script. And unsurprisingly, this all feels like a singular vision. A lovechild from Burns whose cinematography, direction, composition and to extents, writing manifests a solid sci-fi thriller. What Come True required was a second set of eyes to comb the finer details, and while little detracts measurably from the film, it still leaves small gaps.

Thankfully, Scott Burns direction maintains a believability from the cast as they tackle the more severe features, none more so than protagonist Sarah played by Julia Sarah Stone who sells a complex character. With aspects of the past murky, Stone manages to capture the audience with relative ease, bringing energy to Sarah and concerns over what precisely is going on. Even with the scientists, who Burns refrains from making as all-out antagonists, Stone forges chemistry with fellow cast members Landon Liboiron as Jeremy, who grows particularly close to Sarah.

Tapping into the depths of the subconscious as a task of tremendous enormity for filmmakers, too elaborate and the illusion is shattered, too subtle and the illusion crashes. Come True vies for sublime minimalism of monochromatic shapes, figures, and textures – almost a form of recognisable static conjuring our inner desires and travesties. The design for the beings which inhabit our dreams, endlessly shifting with-out sleep patterns makes for a hypnotically chilling visual display as the researchers delve deeper into the test subjects psyches, with just enough familiarity in the shapes to strike an accord with audiences.

Void of colour, the dream sequences sit as opposites to the remainder of the film but Come True’s palette never strikes as bright or colourful. Rather, lighting design and Burn’s framing concocts bleaching of natural light for the most part as the film is lit with clinical fluorescent lights – even when out of the facility. Also spotted in the film’s unnerving soundtrack, are ripples of the synthetics of John Carpenter. Composed from Burns, Electronic Youth and Pilotpriest, Come True’s semantics recognisable to those who have finished the film, of this permanent state of clinical lighting will weigh more significantly than with first viewings.

Come True features enough intrigue and solid performances to hook even the worst offenders of those who fall asleep ten minutes into a film, but doesn’t entirely stay true to itself, instead, throwing smoke bombs out into the script to successfully present as sharper than it’s fuzzier details. But rarely does a film capture the nuances of our ‘safest’ time as we rest and the strength of the subconscious thoughts and anxieties which present themselves as we tuck ourselves in for the night. You’ll never sleep right again. 

Come True will be released to UK Cinemas from 12th March, on Digital Download from 15th March & on Limited Edition Blu-ray from 5th April

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