As the Village Sleeps review

As the Village Sleeps takes a promising premise and quickly squanders every drop of goodwill to deliver one of 2021’s worst efforts. 

College student Sarah (Eleonora Saravalle) is ready to celebrate her birthday at her stepfather’s property. She’s invited along her pals Connie (Chloe Caemmerer) and Liz (Victoria Strange), but since three potential victims doesn’t make for an interesting horror thriller, a few more bodies join the festivities.

Connie’s invited her latest boy toy, Matt (Rane Thomason), and his band. Oddly enough Connie failed to mention that one of the band members is Sarah’s ex, Alex (Oliver Rotunno). And for extra fun, Sarah’s stepsister Tala (Shiah Luna) and stepbrother Jacey (Daniel Olguin) came by to kick it at the property and decide to stick around for Sarah’s festivities. 

as the village sleeps - liz and sarah

Screenwriter Chloë Bellande doesn’t seem too terribly interested in character development. Characters get thrown in too quick to establish basic connections. Director Terry Spears seems just as confused as  to the character dynamics. In the first scene when the band arrives, Spears doesn’t make a big deal of Sarah and Alex’s first interaction since their breakup. This should be a significant moment in the film since it’s the reunion that should be the core relationship of this thriller.

Matt seems to misunderstand his role as a booty call and seems to do everything possible to irritate Connie. From tossing her into the jacuzzi, stealing her edibles and taking over the party, he is a complete nuisance and irritant. Sarah doesn’t seem too bothered and is happy these various friend groups are getting along. Like most boozy college students around a campfire and plenty of spare rooms, they decide to play a game of werewolves and witches.


This is the one sequence where Spears is able to make intriguing with the tease that it could lead to something promising. Spears sets up some unexpected, palatable tension about a simple card game. It doesn’t last long, but for a solid five minutes, Spears offers the hope that through the weak character development and highly suspect performances, the film could still turn it around.

as the village sleeps - tala and jacey

The group wakes up from a massive collective hangover only to realize not everyone is sprawled out on the floor or swearing off alcohol. And naturally, they start suspecting their missing pals have started vanishing because of the game…instead of some crazy nut job in the woods. That checks out. 

Bellande seems to want to channel the Final Destination series with the characters trying to map out death’s formula. That’s not a bad idea, but it gets overly complicated when characters start becoming suspects only for it to possibly be due to the game affecting behavior. Is there actually a werewolf on the loose and if so, who is the witch at play? This is the film’s tipping point as the concepts and basic rules start switching up and Bellande seems lost trying to make sense of everything. 

Spears doesn’t help much either with terribly disorienting shaky camerawork combined with some dark and incomprehensible cinematography that makes it challenging to decipher anything occurring outside. This is a problem since Spears keeps taking the action in desolate, poorly lit places.  

as the village sleeps - alex and sarah

For a horror/thriller with werewolves on the loose, the film is largely absent of much actual bloodshed. Instead, victims get dragged like Snagglepuss, exit stage left. This doesn’t make for a very suspenseful thriller and despite its short run time of an hour and 22 minutes, the film still manages to feel long and tiresome.

The villagers have the right idea with this one. Best to just snooze on this one instead of being disappointed with this ineffective and lackluster thriller. 

Rating: 1 out of 10

Photo Credit: Indie Rights