Ulrik Hansson is a 45 year old man living in a residential district in Sweden, together with his wife Monika and their two children. The family man appears to live a pretty normal life, with a decently paid job as an architect. There is also a new home he’s built which they’ll soon move into. All fine and dandy. One night, when he and his wife are about to go to sleep, he’s suddenly having what first appears to be a heart attack, scaring his wife to the point where she’s about to call for help, until he settles down and says he feels okay again. A panic attack, perhaps? He goes to sleep, but when he wakes up in the morning, he discovers that the bed is covered in blood. In a full panic, he runs around the house, shouting for his wife and two children only to discover that they are all gone…
Sleepwalker is a Swedish thriller from 2000, directed by Johannes Pinter and written by Johan Brännström. It was apparently hyped a bit in its home country, where taglines like “the most exciting film you can see in year 2000 is made in Sweden”, which set the bar rather high. Thus, upon release some found it a bit underwhelming compared to what they were expecting, but despite this it’s actually a pretty decent low-key thriller about a man who fears he’s done something terrible while sleepwalking. It’s not very high in tension or action-packed or anything, but it’s doing a steady job of keeping you wondering together with the protagonist.
The movie starts off like a found footage movie, where Ulrik is filming his family and friends, but this isn’t the movie’s format. There are some scenes where he straps the camera to the side of his head when he goes to sleep, hoping to capture what he does when sleepwalking, and these scenes are actually some of the most effective. You can also find quite an easter-egg in this movie: there is one scene at the start where Ulrik’s children are watching a horror movie, and this movie is none other than Evil Ed (another Swedish film which is considerably more well known). And that’s not all, the actor who played Ed in that movie, Johan Rudebeck, also has a role here where he appears as one of Ulrik’s colleagues.
Sleepwalker is a decent mystery thriller, where we follow a man who appears to be in some kind of way responsible for this own family’s disappearance. And he doesn’t even know whether he is guilty or not, as he doesn’t remember anything. While I feel the ending was a little bit weak, I still found the movie to be quite enjoyable.
Director: Johannes Pinter
Writer: Johan Brännström
Country & year: Sweden, Norway, 2000
Actors: Ralph Carlsson, Ewa Carlsson, Anders Palm, Tuva Novotny, Donald Högberg, Fredrik Hammar, Mats Rudal, Sylvia Rauan, Christoffer Edström, Silke Lauren, Toivo Tolonen, Aina Lesse