In My Sleep -- Film Review

Benjamin Walker
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Actor Benjamin Walker attends the "Bloody Bloody Jackson" opening night after party at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

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CANNES -- A happening guy from West L.A. beds a lot of beauties, but he wakes up one morning with blood in his bed and all over his torso. How did it get there and whose is it? That's the deadly question in "In My Sleep," a well-stirred titillation that will appeal to twentysomething audiences and movie-buff viewers who appreciate the pursued-pursuer, Hitchcockian style of suspenser.

In this savvy entertainment, Marcus (Philip Winchester) has it going: a shiny new Volvo, a gig at an upscale health spa and a winning smile. He's also got a problem with the ladies: He loves them and forgets them. Not because he's crass or insensitive, but because he's a parasomniac -- he does things in his sleep he'd never do while awake and blacks out on what has happened. Not surprisingly, this rankles some female sensibilities, but conscientious Marcus sincerely tries to right his ways, seeking medical help as well as enrolling in a sexaholics group.

Filmmaker Allen Wolf torques this high-concept premise to darkest dimension: Marcus' best friend's wife has been brutally knifed to death, and he fears he may have done it. He also is a very decent guy, who can't believe he would have been capable of such a horrific crime. With circumstantial evidence mounting against him, he must truly figure out who the killer is, even if it is him, before he is arrested.

"In My Sleep" works because the protagonist, while flawed, is completely likable and honorable. Philip Winchester exudes an integrity, as well as a gritty determination, which makes us root for him.

Supporting characters are also convincing, a tribute to the well-assembled cast. In particular, Lacey Chabert is winning as Marcus' adoring neighbor, while Tim Draxl is sympathetic as Marcus' best friend and husband of the murdered woman. Abigail Spencer flexes a steely guile as the estranged sister who accelerates the investigation against Marcus.

Narratively, "In My Sleep" never rests, a credit to the tight, psychologically astute pacing of filmmaker Wolf and editor Peter Devaney Flanagan. In like dark vein, cinematographer Michael Hardwick's taut compositions and vivid scopings magnify this nocturnal horror story.

Festival de Cannes -- Market

Sales: Curb Entertainment International
Production companies: Morningstar Pictures in association with 7th Rig

Cast: Philip Winchester, Tim Draxl, Lacey Chabert, Abigail Spencer, Kelly Overton, Michall (cq) Badalucco, Beth Grant
Director-screenwriter: Allen Wolf
Producers: Allen Wolf, David Austin
Director of photography: Michael Hardwick
Production designer: Brian Ollman
Music: Conrad Pope
Costume designer: Tashiba Jones-Wilson
Editor: Peter Devaney Flanagan

No rating, 104 minutes