Sleep paralysis is without a doubt one of the (if not THE) scariest and creepiest sleep disorders. Likewise, sleep paralysis movies are among the most disturbing representatives of the horror genre.
Mostly brought about by a combination of exhaustion, possible substance abuse and insufficient sleep (as well as factors not yet understood), sleep paralysis can also strike out of the blue, even when none of the above trigger-factors are present.
The creepiness of sleep paralysis seems to know no bounds.
In addition to the experience itself being quite possibly the scariest one can go through (sleep paralysis sufferers have reported a crushing feeling, as well as the presence of various scary shadow-entities in their bedrooms), it seems to have a supernatural component to it too.
You see, scores of sleep paralysis sufferers from various parts of the globe have reported disturbingly similar experiences in regards to the entities they met during sleep paralysis episodes. So much so in fact that the most commonly reported such entity has apparently long been named or identified as “the Night Hag.”
Considering the above, it is clear that sleep paralysis is indeed the perfect premise for creepy movies, one that the movie industry has consistently returned to over the years.
While some of these cinematic exercises have only added the sleep paralysis angle as one meant to enhance their creep-factor, others have focused solely on it.
Here’s a run-down of the best sleep paralysis movies made thus far.
The Entity is an approximately 48 minute-long documentary on sleep paralysis, available on YouTube in its entirety.
The film discusses various aspects of sleep paralysis and “entity attacks,” while attempting to make medical/scientific sense of some of these aspects.
Though shiver-inducing in and of itself, the video has garnered some user comments which further increase its creep-factor.
This 2004 sleep paralysis movie – unlike the above-said documentary – takes certain artistic liberties with the way it covers and builds upon the phenomenon.
Not particularly well received by audiences and critics, the film follows the sleep paralysis-induced ordeals of a writer of children’s books, Valerie Whitmore, who moves into a creepy lakeside mansion with her husband, thus triggering a series of seemingly supernatural events which turn her life into a nightmare.
Like The Entity, The Nightmare is also a documentary about sleep paralysis, available on Netflix.
Proclaimed the scariest series on Netflix, it takes a look at the causes of the phenomenon and at the way it works, also revealing the shockingly large number of sleep paralysis sufferers world-over.
The documentary tries to play up the phenomenon as this scary beast, but at the end of the day, it does deliver useful information that dispels much of the negative hype surrounding it.
This movie is yet another incursion to the artistically-enhanced dark side of the sleep paralysis phenomenon.
It is about a family of sleep paralysis sufferers, who seek professional help.
Needless to say, lots of creepy mayhem ensues as the sleep specialist finds herself way over her head, unable to pry the victims from the clutches of the sleep monsters.
Another 2017 movie, Dead Awake pushes the sleep paralysis envelope, selling the phenomenon as something real, something that can actually kill the sufferer if he/she begins to believe the Night Hag is indeed real.
This sleep paralysis movie plays an effective mind-trick on viewers, prompting them to desperately try to not fall into the trap of “believing,” while at the same time wondering what would happen if they – even for a second – believed…
Though not specifically about sleep paralysis, this 2014 drama deals with an issue that is part and parcel of the experience for some sufferers: a sinister shadow entity.
In the movie, the protagonists, Amelia and her son Sam, live in a house, the dark nooks and crannies of which are haunted by an entity called The Babadook.
Sam is the one who first becomes aware of the evil presence, but after they read a children’s book which in effect describes their supernatural “guest,” Amelia’s life turns upside down too.
With no one around to help them, the two are left to their own devices to handle the “Babadook infestation.”
Seen by many as the definitive horror movie dealing with the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, the Conjuring takes a paranormal approach to the matter.
As horror movies go, The Conjuring is built upon a rather common premise: a family moves into a ramshackle farmhouse in Rhode Island, which later turns out to be haunted.
With the help of a couple of celebrity paranormal investigators, they then try to rid their dwelling from the satanic infestation, going through various creepy ordeals and situations in the process.
This web series deals with various aspects of lucid dreaming, taking a look at sleep paralysis too.
It is not a documentary, but rather a movie-series, with surprisingly good character development.
If you’re into lucid dreaming, it is certainly worth a look.
So, which one is the scariest?
Based on its premise alone, and on the way it manipulates the viewer into effectively doubting reality, Dead Awake may indeed take that title.
Since it paints sleep paralysis as a potentially deadly affliction, it serves up a shiver-inducing “what if?” proposition, which is – in and of itself – mind-numbingly scary, way above and beyond occasional startle-scares.