Come True (2020 – dir. Anthony Scott Burns): Philadelphia Film Festival review

If every American genre filmmaker has a bit of John Carpenter coursing through their veins, then every Canadian filmmaker has some Cronenberg in theirs, and Burns is no exception. Despite the more obvious references to Romero and yes, Carpenter, Come True has that purple-tinted, melodramatic, sexy biotech feel that Cronenberg often made into high art (or beautiful trash).

Immediately striking, and consistently spooky for almost the entirety of its runtime, this mysterious little thriller had me floored. The very last few seconds (yes, seconds) are so insanely poor, however, that it almost sunk the whole thing for me. Yet, in typical me fashion, as I look back on this one potentially terrible choice, I start to wonder if it was indeed terrible at all. Maybe it was brilliant. The jury is still out on that, but at any rate, a 99% awesome movie still gets to be considered awesome. It’s only right.

Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone), is having trouble sleeping. Desperate for answers, she enlists in a sleep
study at a strange laboratory. It seems to work at first, giving her a bed to sleep on rather than the slide of the local playground, but she and her fellow study participants start to notice some eerie similarities to their dreams. And when Sarah makes a connection with one of the leaders of the study, it becomes clear that something more nefarious is afoot.

The dreamy visuals are sensual and chilling, with moments that lean into abject terror in ways I’ve never seen before. Hypnotic is the word. Engaging is another. A third word, “perfect,” has to wait until I can parse out that tricky final moment, but few films come this close anyway.

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