Never-ending Nightmares Come True (2021) in This Hypnotic Horror Centered on Sleep
Title: Come True
First Non-Festival Release: March 12, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Anthony Scott Burns
Writer: Anthony Scott Burns, Daniel Weissenberger
Runtime: 105 Minutes
Starring: Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron, Carlee Ryski
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Troubled high school student, Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone), makes the impulsive decision to sign up for an experimental sleep study after crashing on public park slides and her best friend’s house. Nervous but willing to undergo some discomfort for a good night’s rest, Sarah begins the study, and all seems fine, even if something is eating at her. Afterwards, however, her real world starts changing as she begins seeing strange visions and falling asleep in strange places. She is convinced that it has to do with the study but is unsure how or why her life seems to become a real-life nightmare.
Come True delivers dreamy and dazzling sci-fi horror while sleepwalking to an unfortunate finale.
Beginning much like many films of its kind, Come True ignites with a pulsating and eerie nightmare sequence that sets the tone for the remainder of the film. One that is dark, wonderous, and dangerous. The team behind Come True shines with its visuals, both in and out of the nightmare state that we are accustomed to throughout the feature, much to do with the bleeding between the two. Nightmare sequences are beautifully constructed with just enough obstruction to keep the viewer on edge and guessing, which is perfect for the sci-fi horror mystery presented in Come True.
Come True wanders a bit aimlessly in its middle before its haunting finale. It has plenty of weird and trippy visuals to sell the waking nightmare that Sarah is experiencing but director Anthony Scott Burns doesn’t quite nail the tension and suspense. The effects work is raw, realistic, and at times terrifying and the cast does a good job of selling the fear they create. Stone conveys the innocence and terror of Sarah particularly well.
Hypnotic in both story and sights, Come True is a suffering, sleep-inducing slow burn horror only for the most patient of viewers. It has all the workings of a well-constructed mind-bender of a film. Featuring a viscerally haunting and ethereal score, Come True lulls the viewer into a false sense of safety before jolting them awake to the horror on-screen. Both in setting and imagery, it’s terrifying and mesmerizing what the filmmakers were able to pull off with what would otherwise be mundane locations like a simple hospital room or a long, isolated road.
Come True doesn’t noticeably stumble until its end. After ramping up its intensity and showcasing just how scary the film can be, its ending ruins much of the goodwill that it builds in a matter of seconds. It’s an incredibly disheartening and maddening feeling to have after digging most of the film preceding it. I’ve read up many takes on why the ending is executed in this particular way and I still find myself disappointed. Come True is the cinematic version of edging in the most egregious of ways. While I am perturbed by this direction, I must concede that it makes sense within the universe and is thematically fitting. That doesn’t, however, change my opinion that it could have been handled better.
I know the ending changes things, but it also feels so weird to me that Jeremy is presented to be perceived as a good guy while very clearly not acting like one. Considering he stalks Sarah, an underage woman, and then doesn’t reveal to her his involvement in the study makes future parts feel icky, even after revelations come to light. Other than a few rough patches of editing when coming in and out of dream sequences, which may be intentional, these are the extent of my issues with the film.
It’s frustrating. Come True has all the workings of a great modern horror. Its fantastic visuals, believable performances, potent atmosphere, and unshakeable premise should make for a behemoth of a sci-fi horror film. Unfortunately, severe pacing problems and what must be last minute poor writing decisions hamper what could have been a more effective film. Regardless, it is a commendable effort that surely has appeal to many genre enthusiasts. The parts that do work make it worth seeing. At the end of the day Come True lies somewhere between a sweet dream and a beautiful nightmare for horror buffs seeking somnambulistic scares.
Overall Score? 6/10