Alone and chained to a painting, John wakes up with no recollection of how he got there. The more John rummages, the tighter the chain’s hold becomes. When John finally realizes where he is, a struggle for his daughter and his own sanity ensues.

‘To Sleep & Dream’ is a complex short that takes us into the mind’s abyss. The film points out different aspects of the human life, ranging from false opportunity to the great obstacles that prevent individuals from realizing their dreams.

Director Mathew Brengman achieves to place his main character into an unstable basement-looking environment which symbolizes imprisonment and many different sinister connotations. Brengman says “Survival for the man means the imprisonment of the soul” is what he used to create a dichotomy.

The film’s strongest features are the location or set design and the lighting. The team does a great job at creating a dark unknown place in the human mind that keeps everything uncertain and doubtful. Rugged textures and the strong contrast set the striking tone to give the impression that the man is stuck in an unwelcoming place. The sound effects does the rest of the work for setting the ambiance, with little soundtrack, the short emphasizes on sewer-like sounds like water drops and echoey gasps to discern the resenting feeling of solitude and distance.

This was the first film that I have ever directed; because of this, I was very determined to create a complete and complex story

The only sideswipe I have for the short is that some parts of the story could have been a little clearer. This might have been the intentions from the beginning and I’m always one to enjoy mind-benders, but I still found some details like being chained to the painting, and the painting themselves not evident enough. I enjoyed the overall performance of the actors, although the doctor was lacked some credibility. These are merely personal opinions and do not affect the quality and end result of the film. Great job by the director, producer and entire team on this pulsating thriller!

Watch a quick behind the scenes with director Matthew Brengman

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