Anthony Scott Burns is both a filmmaker and a musician, both skills are married together exquisitely in his latest feature film, Come True. The story follows Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone), a young woman at odds with her mother whom has taken to sleeping rough to escape her home. In dire need of a proper place to rest, she signs up to a sleeping study as an easy way to get a bed. Soon into the experiment however, Sarah and the doctors realise that they may have made contact with something sinister…
Come True contains some of the most disturbing cinematic imagery I have ever seen. The film focuses heavily on dreams, and so we spend a lot of time in the dream world, which is entirely unlike anything we’ve seen before, or will again. Typically, dream sequences in film and TV look and feel just like the real world, only with a couple of odd elements thrown in. Take A Nightmare on Elm Street for example, the kids often don’t realise that they’re in a dream because their surroundings appear too familiar. In Come True, the dream sequences look and feel completely alien. They play as a cocktail of H.R Giger, Salvador Dali, and Clive Barker; nightmarish, surreal, and disturbingly effective. The imagery is various shades of black, the layers of darkness eerily masking long-limbed shadowy silhouettes. Our movement through these sequences is constant, Burns opting to keep the camera moving ever forwards, capturing that loss of control that we have when asleep. As much as we might want to stop and turn around, we can’t, and instead continue to push through, all the time surrounded by weird creatures. There’s an almost kaleidoscopic merging of mirrored sides at times, which works to further disorientate. These sequences are nothing short of stunning and the imagery within, no matter how foreboding, deserves its place in an art gallery.
Burns himself serves as cinematographer on the project; considering he also wrote and composed the score, alongside Electric Youth (Drive), Come True is one hundred percent his baby. Often directors focus on just one element and other components get away from them, but here by keeping a stranglehold on all the key components, Burns has birthed something wicked and wonderful all at the same time. Come True is just as gorgeous outside the dreamscape as it is inside. The differentiating factor being colour. The world of dreams is told in black; in contrast, the awake world in bathed in all manner of neon, though mainly blue, purple, and turquoises. Considering most of the movie takes place at night, these lighting choices create atmosphere and energy whilst at the same time subconsciously encoding the film as science-fiction to the viewers at home.
The collaboration between Burns as a musician (under the name PilotPriest) and Electric Youth is another masterstroke. The film’s stunning visuals are accompanied by a synth-heavy score that channels Vangelis and Brad Fiedel. Come True also features a haunting sequence set to a song called Modern Fears that whisks you away to another world. The audio and visuals work so well together that at times it’s hard to not become completely entranced by the film, as you enter an almost fugue state during which the outside world disappears without trace.
As director, Burns really knows just how to etch dread and fear onto the screen. One scene involving monitors and a couple of sleeping subjects it so intense that you’ll be forgiven for watching it from behind the sofa. The tension rises second by second, the sensation not dissimilar from that supper scene in Alien. It’s uncomfortable viewing and when combined with those Hellish nightmares. It’s almost certain that you won’t be sleeping for while.
Julia Sarah Stone has been on our radar since her brilliant turn in The Unseen (which also screened at Fantasia). Allude confirmed her as one to watch, and with Come True she demonstrates just how incredible she can be. Initially she starts out as an almost Donnie Darko type character; waking up in a random place, cycling around the neighbourhood, but soon morphs into something much more. As Sarah, Stone encapsulates vulnerability, strength, and fragility and apathy, all at once, and her performance is nothing short of mesmerising. Landon Liboiron also gives a great performance as a sci-fi scientist, and not in the evil ‘mwah-ha-ha’ strand, but the lovable romantic type. The scenes between the pair are electric and feel genuine; their fascination with each other simultaneously seduces the viewer.
Put simply, Come True is a truly exceptional movie. It’s everything you could possible want from a science-fiction skewed horror movie; it’s intellectually challenging, emotionally absorbing, and above all, absolutely terrifying. A simply stunning tale of the human psyche, dreams and scientific endeavour, Come True is science-fiction horror at it’s very best. Perfection.
This review first appeared on THN. Come True is available on all formats in the UK now.