In anticipation of Dark Sky Films’ home video release of Sleep Tight, we’re sitting down with its director, Jaume Balagueró, for an exclusive one-on-one interview. Best-known for REC and REC 2, the acclaimed helmer has received glowing accolades worldwide for his latest foray into horror, available on Special Edition Blu-ray and DVD this Tuesday, January 8th.
Shock Till You Drop: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, sir. I am a big fan of the [REC] films, but SLEEP TIGHT is easily your finest feature. Why did you choose to do something so different than [REC] for this? Structurally and tonally, it seems so very different – but manages to be just as terrifying!
Jaume Balaguero: Thank you! After the experience of [REC], which was set up to be very intense physical horror in both plot and pacing, I felt the need to return to a more conventional and calculated film. The script for SLEEP TIGHT came to me at just the right time. It was the perfect opportunity to develop a classic story and to explore horror from a more conventional sense. Being calmer, it allowed me to create a much more sophisticated brand of suspense – with classic elements of conventional film language, such as its music, editing, and staging.
Shock: SLEEP TIGHT, like [REC] and [REC]², is set inside an enormous apartment building. The building eventually becomes a very important character in all your films. Did you plan this? Do you have a love for these large apartment complexes?
Balaguero: No, the truth is that it’s more by chance! I promise you my upcoming films will not take place in a building in Barcelona… But, then again, I made that promise right after [REC], as well!
Shock: SLEEP TIGHT is a very terrifying horror film, but in a very non-traditional way. I credit much of this to the pacing, but an equal amount to Luis Tosar, your lead actor. Can you tell me what it was like working with him? He seems quite brilliant.
Balaguero: Luis Tosar is one of the most important players in modern Spanish cinema. His talent is limitless. To identify the viewer with my villain and tell the story from his point of view was a special challenge for me. And, for that, I needed an actor who could be repulsive and fascinating at the same time he’s being scary and charismatic. Luis Tosar was the man.
Shock: By the final act, the film has become so unbelievably dark, it verges on black comedy. How did you keep emotions running so high – and amazingly keep it from becoming a spoof of the thriller genre?
Balaguero: One challenge of the film was to establish a special tone and keep it balanced. There had to be a hyper-realistic story, but with some magical focus, like a fable. The whole film is essentially a kind of fairy tale for adults. It also had to be dark and scary, while at the same time, maintain its very subtle black comedy. But above all… it had to be great, dark entertainment for its viewers.
Shock: And finally, would you ever consider coming back to the character of César? Where do you think he would he be in ten years?
Balaguero: No, I don’t think it would be possible to come back to him, although I do admit I’ve thought about it. I’ve had a few ideas in my head that were shocking and surprising. Ultimately, I think it would be a great idea if there were a television series based on the character of César… Think about that!