Anthony Scott Burns, who wrote, directed, edited, and filmed his new sci-fi/horror film Come True, wears several jobs in the movie. The one role he can't put himself in is “closer,” despite his best efforts to create an atmosphere of unease and tension throughout the film's running period.
A good movie's finale is essential to the overall pie chart since it's one of the building components that makes it suitable. The rest of your work as a filmmaker is for naught if you can't conclude your film on a great note and stick the landing.
Sleep and dreams are rich ground for genre experimentation; that is where Come True's roots lie. Playground sleeping bags are necessary for the film's Sarah, played by Julia Sarah Stone, a teenage runaway.
Sarah believes she's discovered the solution to her troubles when she finds sleep research that pays participants to dream. But things quickly grow far worse than waking up next to a playground.
False Flattery and Mimicry
It is the convergence of two distinct visual worlds, the blue-ish/gray hue of Sarah's real-world inside the sleep facility (which is occasionally broken up by blinding, washed-out daylight shots of her time between sessions) and the haunting, Silent Hill-level visions of Sarah's unsettling dreams, that drives the story forward.
An experienced visual effects artist, Burns conceives of Sarah's dreams and those of her fellow subjects as disturbing POV sequences set in a dark and murky procession of twisted storybook imagery.
An intimidating black form with luminous eyes is the centerpiece of the spooky exhibits in these abstracted dreams and their separated locations. Time will show that this person appears in the dreams of everyone who sleeps, not only Sarah and that this phenomenon spurred the continued research.
At first glance, the observer may question what Burns intends to do with this structure. Yes, a frightened teen experiences a nighttime encounter with a spooky shadow. The mysterious figure may be meant to reflect Sarah's buried trauma. There are two genres, horror and science fiction, where thematic content is necessary for dramatic effect.
I mean, it's not that simple. There is no interest in Burns examining why Sarah runs away, what motivates her, or what pulls her back, even if the story's strange mythology is the focus of his narrative. In this film, there is less emphasis on telling a story or conveying a meaningful emotion. In this case, the focus is more on the atmosphere.
Similar to David Robert Mitchell's It Follows, this is more of an exercise in assembling an appropriate aesthetic from a jumble of inspirations from the 1980s. Wes Craven is in the domain of nightmares, whereas David Cronenberg is in the unsubtle intersection of science and fear.
If the proceedings resemble an early James Cameron film, the big Terminator poster in the background of an office confirms your suspicions.
Burns himself (as he alter ego Pilotpriest) and Drive soundtrack veterans Electric Youth provide a pulsating synth score that further demonstrates the film's intended tone. When it comes to a well-crafted, dark thriller that incorporates some of the most memorable influences into a coherent whole, Burns indeed spent more time on the tone than the tale.
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Come True, up until its last act, feels like a film that will transcend its ambitious, essentially formless plot to draw a curtain on a decisive conclusion, presumably because of its mesmerizing atmosphere and robust execution. Two late creative decisions squander any goodwill it may have accrued in the past.
To begin with, it expands on a storyline from the beginning of the film that could have been twisted or omitted altogether with a more deft direction. a former cast member of “Degrassi.”
As frightening as the sleep paralysis demon analog is, this mature man stalking a defenseless adolescent proves to be from the start. As Jeremy, a sleep researcher who seems to be drawn to Sarah, Landon Liboiron appears in the film's background. In the beginning, we see him pursuing her in public before realizing he is a show fan.
But instead of delving deeper into the conflict between real-life boogeymen and those from the realm of dreams or revealing his true motivations, the film instead focuses on Sarah and Jeremy's bizarre relationship and their eventual consummation, with director Burns attempting in vain to gloss over how disturbing it is to see Sarah reveal that she is 18 years old.
Even more unsettling than the film's nave attempts at cinematic horror terror is the revelation that your film's waifish protagonist, hitherto depicted simply as the physical realization of every mother's nightmare of her daughter appearing on the side of a milk box.
Regardless, it may be forgiven if the rest of the third act was able to build on the film's mythos and leave moviegoers with a good impression of the film's narrative. A terrifying sleepwalking episode featuring Sarah seems to be building to an emotionally stirring conclusion for only a few minutes as Burns appears to be on the verge of nailing it.
As a result of the film's slow-motion train catastrophe, though, Come True turns into one of the stupidest, most insulting twist endings in recent memory. This isn't a picture that stumbles along the way, but rather one that leaps over the collective heads of its audience to land on the other side of a shark tank devoured alive for a dubious spectacle that may take years of independent, peer-reviewed research ever to untangle.
In this picture, the visuals are spectacular, but so is the film's lack of storytelling ability and a concluding scene so terrible that it deserves to be regarded as a piece of cinematic trash for the rest of its existence. Come True is one of those rare films that would be better off if its protagonist woke up and said, “It was all a dream.”