Writer/director Parker Finn’s terrific short film Laura Hasn’t Slept combines the concept from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise (along with other horror properties) of avoiding sleep so as not to confront a horrific entity with the theme of mental illness. The result is a stirring effort led by an incredible performance from Caitlin Stasey.
Stasey portrays Laura, who is visiting her psychiatrist Dr. Parsons (Lew Temple) because she can’t bear to sleep, thinking that she will see the real face of a nocturnal terror who haunts and taunts her when she slumbers. Parsons does his best to find the reasons behind Laura’s fears, but it may all be for naught . . .
Laura Hasn’t Slept has many positive qualities, but for me the main driving force is Stasey’s performance. She is on screen in a majority of the shots, and owns each appearance. The emotion she conveys is riveting and utterly believable. Temple also does a solid job, to be sure, but has less screen time.
Finn tells a grueling, gripping full story in Laura Hasn’t Slept, but the short is also an appetite whet for a full feature version. He shows a masterful hand with building tension and delivering a payoff, and with making every frame look terrific.
Among the many other things Laura Hasn’t Slept has going for it are the fine special effects by Nelson Cooper and the marvelous visual effects from Sean Findley and Nicolaus Waetjen. Together with the top-notch cinematography work of Dan Clarke, the short is a true feast for the eyes. Dan Kenyon’s sound design and Rob Himebaugh’s score make it equally impressive for the ears, as well.(4 / 5)
Laura Hasn’t Slept won Director’s Prize for Overall Cinematic Achievement at FilmQuest 2020, which took place online and at The Velour in Provo, Utah, from May 21–29, 2021.