Moviegoer: Come True

A beautiful nightmare of a film 

By Diana Beechener 

Sarah Dunne (Julia Sarah Stone: Marlene) has been sleeping on a slide in a local park. She waits for her mother to leave before sneaking into the house to shower and change, then promptly flees. Occasionally, Sarah can convince a friend to take her in, but effectively she’s homeless. 

The lifestyle is taking its toll. Sarah can’t sleep, her mind taking her through an odd black landscape at night where strange figures lurk in the shadows. The nightmares have Sarah blinking in and out of high school classes, guzzling coffee just to keep her eyes open during the day. When Sarah sees a sleep study advertised at the local coffee shop, she thinks her luck is finally changing.  It’s not.  

Sarah joins the study, which guarantees her a place to sleep for at least two months. Technicians strap her into monitoring suits, but stay mum on what they’re studying or how. Sarah’s so desperate to sleep that she doesn’t worry about it too much. After the first night, Sarah feels like a new person—she’s refreshed and alert, happily answering the researcher’s questions. 

The second night, however, Sarah ends up back in her nightmare landscape, being pulled ever closer to a creepy black figure with glowing white eyes. In the morning, the researchers are eager to speak with her, and Sarah starts to suspect that their research isn’t as benign as first advertised.  

Can Sarah close her eyes without being drawn back to the nightmares?   

Come True is a visual feast. Anthony Scott Burns (Our House) is the one-man-band of creativity behind the film, serving as the writer, director, cinematographer, editor, and composer. It’s a pretty amazing feat. Burns crafts a neon-toned film that evokes the best of ‘70s and ‘80s horror. Think of Come True as the unholy child of John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. The film was inspired by Burns’ own issues with sleeping and hypnagogic hallucinations (which interestingly often take the form of shadowy figures with white eyes).  

Burns turned his sleep deprivation into a beautiful film filled with retro style and some truly terrifying tracking shots of the subconscious. Watch this movie in a dark room to truly appreciate the textures and detail Burns layers in every image. Walls and figures don’t quite align, shadows claw around the frame, backgrounds shift and move. The whole film is an exercise in creating visual anxiety. It’s a nuanced and fascinating film to look at, as it peels back layers of reality.   

Though the visual elements are breathtaking, the story doesn’t quite capture the same creepy magic. There are a few jarring twists, and while the whole film operates using a sort of dream logic, it makes the story a little impenetrable. For instance, though this is Sarah’s story, we get very little to help us understand her —we’re not even sure why she won’t go home. Part of that is the overall point of Burns’ film: He wants you to feel as though you’ve been put in a dream. Come True is likely one of those films that will also come together more upon multiple viewings.  

Beautiful to look at and featuring some truly startling images, Come True is the perfect spooky movie for a night in. Burns is an interesting new filmmaker with an arresting visual style, well worth a $6 rental fee. If you’re looking for some thrills this weekend and aren’t willing to commit to the four-hour Justice League: The Snyder CutCome True is a safe bet.  

Come True is available for rental on Amazon Prime or any other VOD service.  

Good Thriller * NR * 105 mins.