Nikola Gocić reviews Sleep Has Her House, 2017, directed by Scott Barley
Described as “the greatest filmmaker of the millennial generation” by the founder of the Remodernist movement Jesse Richards, Scott Barley (born in Newport, South Wales, 1992) is the London-based chronicler of the innate, primordial and cosmological darkness. Often compared to the likes of Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage and Philippe Grandrieux, he has a penchant for long, meditative takes and, as of late, underexposed imagery which successfully induces pareidolia, especially if the viewer is hyper-sensitive and respects the rules for watching his films. Since 2015, he favors iPhone to camera, all to great effect, considering his moving pictures have grainy textures associated with vintage formats. Although his career is still in its infancy, his unique style has been praised and his works acclaimed, with his mighty impressive feature debut Sleep Has Her House being a great example of his “seduction through obfuscation”.
This grim excursion into the great and intimidating Unknown is almost certainly the sombrest portrait of Mother Nature’s soul, essence and/or silence, with owls, deer and horses as the ambassadors of otherworldly forces. What hides in the air, behind the trees, beneath the waters and beyond the horizon of Barley’s bleak vistas is hard to tell, but whatever it is, one can feel its presence and shiver at the thought of it. A whisper of an ancient deity, a negative reflection of Lovecraftian dread or once dormant emanation from the very edge of the Universe, this entity may be invisible, but its power is immense, simultaneously provoking fear and bringing tranquility. And there is no human being in sight, because the world envisioned by Barley appears as one that has just been born or is closing to an end. In its death-like stupor, only the shadows move.