Questions about the Movie Sleep Has Her House

I dub me some serious avant-garde movies. I like indies that give viewers cluster migraines. I love movies that require the audience to have the doctoral level textbooks out as reference materials as they unfold. These kinds of movies don’t float everyone’s boats…but we didn’t invite those people to this site. We have nothing against those particular people – heck, I enjoy a dumbed down movie every now and again. It can be fun to just watch all the bad guys explode. But, generally, that’s not how we roll here at THiNC. Normally, when I bring you guys a movie, I come with answers. Maybe I come with some questions, but generally I attempt to answer those too…and then we discuss the movie in the comments section. But this time? Woah. Today is different. Today all I have are questions about the movie Sleep Has Her House. Literally, a metric-butt-ton o’ question marks.

My first question is – how many of you have even heard of this movie? I have taken to wandering the back alleys of And woah, some of the movies I have begun stumbling upon have blown my mind a bit. So much so, that I think many of these movies have wandered out of the of the world of the movie theater, and over into the world of art installation. You know? Like the movie, It Has to Be Lived Once and Dreamed Twice. Which is literally static. The entirety of the film is, like, permutations of static. I kid you not. And Sleep Has Her House is similar, but only inside the world of nature. Here, try out the trailer and tell me what you think.

If you haven’t yet had a chance, and find this post and discussion intriguing, you can pick up the movie right here. But, if the trailer didn’t intrinsically make sense to you, then definitely don’t spend the 11 quid, or whatever. That is the movie. I mean, obviously there is 90 minutes more there, but this is what we are talking about here. 90 minutes of amalgamated horror/sci-fi/nature footage.

Which brings me to my first question – what is it? When I look online and see the comments that people bring up while thinking about this film it makes me wonder what I am missing here. Like this comment by Eli Hayes:

Lit and shot in a manner that allows dimness to completely envelop the majority of each long take, so that the focus on the landscapes & the exploration of space feels like you’re observing the remnants of an isolated or even forsaken region. The cocoon of darkness that the life exists within is so murky that it’s less reminiscent of shadows & earthly lowlight, and more reminiscent of a distant location in which earthly sites sprout from deep space; a galaxy trapped somewhere between ourselves and an inky infinity. For me, this is a “science fiction” film, through and through — a portrait of an Earth, or an adjacent reality, that has become alien, invaded not by extraterrestrials but by a slow, persistent decay. A knowledge that, eventually, the nightfall will become permanent and places such as these will only exist in the memories of a blind universe.

But it wasn’t until I tripped across this quote from Scott Barley, the Director of this project, that I started to get a glimmer of maybe what his intentions might possibly be: “It’s when I feel most alive,” he says upon the release of his first feature, Sleep Has Her House – “to be in such awe that you’re rendered small, meaningless and afraid.” Which then brought me stumbling and stammering into his first film, which, I got, and watched, and was then even more confused. But maybe, possibly, getting something of a glimmer of what might be happening here?

Glimmers, maybe. But definitely no answers. I did find a comment the Mr. Barley made about a new work that he is developing, entitled The Sea Behind Her Head, which sort of intimated an answer to some of the questions I have been wondering about Sleep Has Her House.

“When I first began work on The Sea Behind her Head, I thought of it as a companion piece, a sister film to Sleep Has Her House. As I have continued to work on it over the last three years, I have realized that the film is about twins, mirrors, in and of itself.

“For The Sea Behind Her Head, I have taken an antonymic approach to how I have made films previously. For instance, it will be the first film that I have ever done research for. It’s the first film I have ever written a novella for, or any kind of story, or script. Previously, I would work without knowing what I was trying to say, until it “felt right,” and the understanding would come after the sensation. This time, I’m working forwards, knowing what I want to say, and the later, I remove as much of the linearity, symbols, archetypes, and narration as possible from the original text, and hopefully only leave the presence intact – the sensation – in the final work: until it becomes lost to me again; unknown again. It seems to me that that is what history is: a document of our own forgetting.

“Layers of iPhone footage, which were subtly composited together as part of a larger tableaux in my previous work will, on this occasion deliquesce into separate parts, birthing and murdering themselves within each scream of presence, only to mirror themselves in echoing reverberations later.

“My previous films were about being a witness to things. This time, the hope is to provide the vision of both witness and the voice of the choir as one. A film of both witness and choir… that is my hope.”

So, I deduce from this, that he is saying that his film Sleep Has Her House, is a witnessing. A presence and viewing of a sensation, an experience of a moment. I think? But, even so, I am not entirely sure. With that, I went over to Twitter, and begged Mr. Barley to have him answer a few of my questions about his works. Probably nigh on impossible that he responds. But at least I am doing the work necessary to grapple with his oeuvre. I will swing back through and update this post with his answers to my questions if he responds. But until then, have any of you experienced any of Scott Barley’s films from beginning to end? What did you think of them? What were they about and what have you taken away from them?

Edited by: CY