Spoiler-Free Film Reviews: “Sleep” and “Strange Kindness” (Boston Underground Film Festival 2024)

March 26, 2024

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at josephperry@gmail.com. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Sleep (South Korea, 2023)

A sleepwalking man becomes a danger to his family in writer/director Jason Yu’s eerie feature Sleep. HyunSu (Lee SunKyun) and SooJin (Jung YuMi) are a married couple expecting their first child. HyunSu begins having bouts of somnambulism that become increasingly disturbing, and when SooJin suspects supernatural influence, tension between the spouses increases. Lee and Jung give solid performances as the troubled couple, and Yu ratchets up the tension well, leading to a highly satisfying third act. The “love conquers all” element is a bit on the nose, but overall the film is a gripping one that fans of occult horror should find well worth a watch.



Strange Kindness (U.S., 2024)

Writer/director Joseph Mault’s Cape Cod-set thriller Strange Kindness is a meditative feature with political commentary on violence in the United States woven in with family trauma drama. Rose (Leanne McLaughlin) is a young woman helping her reclusive aunt Chris (Deirdre Madigan) with home treatments for Chris’s cancer. Rose’s troubled brother James (Kristofor Giordano) suddenly and unexpectedly shows up after an absence, which happens around the same time that a home invasion has led to people being shot and killed. A wounded male (Michal Vondel, whose character is called Young Man) enters Chris’s home, brandishing an assault rifle. Chris seems to take pity on the man. What follows is a slow-burn character study that flirts with the supernatural without fully committing to it. The languidly paced film leaves much open to interpretation and unanswered. It’s an intriguing independent effort that serves as a calling card for Mault as a filmmaker to keep an eye on.  

Sleep and Strange Kindness screened as part of the 2024 Boston Underground Film Festival, which ran March 20–24. For more information, visit https://bostonunderground.org/.

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