The Kenneth Karlstad directed short, THE DREAMER, is one that packs a punch. A director that’s worked with hard rock bands, it’s clear that his vision for filmmaking has a heavy metal style to it.
THE DREAMER takes us into the home of a mother and daughter. While the daughter, Alex, has consistent night terrors, the mother tries to settle her. Unfortunately, our motherly figure is having some night terrors of her own. Assuming she has had sleep deprivation of some kind, the line between reality and fiction is blurred. Seeing this short from the mother’s point of view, we don’t ever fully comprehend exactly where we are in the house or if we are caught in a dream, but the cinematography uses several tricks including night vision, complete darkness, rotating camera lenses, and stop motion animation to confuse us even further.
Short filmmaking is difficult because we don’t get the chance to spend much time with our characters, but we still have to connect with them in some way. This short immediately made the mother relatable as someone who’s a singular caretaker but also has her own troubles. The daughter is rightfully afraid of her own night terrors but has no idea of the problems her mother is facing by staying up late to tend to her.
What makes this short scary is its imagery. A small child with a knife in the night, a young girl staring at a tv screen with nothing playing in a darkened room. In general, sleep terrors and sleepwalking actually scare me. I personally have never suffered from such a problem, outside of the regular nightmare from time to time, and I can’t imagine waking up not knowing where I’d been or what I’d done. On the other side of that, it’s a bit frightening to watch someone you know and love wandering the house doing things they normally wouldn’t do in the dead of night.
Kenneth Karlstad is rooted in real-life occurrences that we can understand while using filmmaking tricks to show us an imaginary world full of terrors. It’s a small showcase for a director who clearly understands how to intrigue, relate to, and frighten his viewers all at once.
You can watch Kenneth Karlstad’s THE DREAMER for free on Youtube thanks to HorrOrigins.com.