The Nightmare – documentary, USA, 2015



‘Welcome to the scariest place on Earth’

The Nightmare is a 2015 American documentary film about sleep paralysis and nightmare “shadow people” directed by Rodney Ascher (Room 237The ABCs of Death 2 (segment “Q is for Questionnaire”). The film had its world premiere on January 26, 2015, at the Sundance Film Festival.

Official synopsis:

A look at a frightening condition that plagues thousands; sleep paralysis.

The Nightmare‘s subjects hail from different backgrounds and walks of life, but share eerily similar visions of malevolent, near-human beings that grow increasingly aggressive the longer the  recurs. Are these just random hallucinations or something more? Rational explanations get challenged by the similarities of the “shadow people” multiple subjects describe looming over them.


Ascher, who has first hand knowledge of sleep paralysis, brings the full intensity of this experience to the screen while maintaining empathy and respect for his subjects. As the film unfolds, distinctions between the documentary and horror genres fade as do easy lines between reality and the imagination…