You're sure to draw parallels with scenes in this motion-picture and recent world events. For example, 'children in a school screaming in terror' - the Beslan School tragedy , 'the child is buried underneath a house' - Frank Cole's claims about Azaria Chamberlain. The scary thing is that these events happened AFTER completion of the film. Is there something more than scientists will have us believe?
graphic  graphic  graphic
We caught up with Nikolaos (the Writer and Director) and asked him what was his source of inspiration to write 'SLEEP-PARALYSIS'. The story behind the inspiration is as hair raising as the movie itself.
The inspiration to write Sleep-Paralysis came from my own experiences with the phenomenon. The first time it occurred was when I was 15 years old and still in high school. I was resting in my bedroom while the rest of the family was watching TV in the lounge room. As I lay in bed somewhere between conscious and unconciousness  I sensed something. I opened my eyes and saw this 'thing'. It was a silhouette of a human figure. It approached me from the side of my bed. Before I knew it this thing was on top of me.
At first I thought it was my elder brother playing a trick. But I soon realised it wasn't. I tried to shake it off  but I could not move. It was as though I was cast in stone. I began to yell but no one could hear me. This thing was crushing me. Desperation gave way to fear. I panicked. The harder I tried to get free the better this thing had a hold of me. I felt helpless. The episode seemed to last an eternity. When I finally was 'released' by this thing I tried to make some sense of what had happened. I was convinced this was some sort of spirit.
The phenomenon reoccurred on a regular basis. I chose not to tell my family thinking that I could deal with it on my own. One evening we were sitting in the lounge watching TV. My elder brother just finished a glass of orange juice which he placed on a tray in his lap. A moment after he put the empty glass down it exploded into thousands of pieces. It didn't crack or break, it literally exploded. It shocked us and we were all busy trying to explain what caused it. My father went on to tell us of his reoccurring nightmare. My elder brother soon confessed as did my sister. When my father found out that we were all experiencing very similar events at night he called a priest to bless the house.
My father is a very religious and superstitious person, as are most Europeans from that generation. I, on the other hand, am not. Yet, with all the schooling and science I had no other explaination. You can't be dissuaded to thinking it did not happen. It happened and it was real.
The priest came and he blessed the house. A ritual that lasted some two hours. The nightmares went away.
Some 15 years later I was living in England in a converted two storey barn in a very isolated farm. Next to the barn was an old 17th Century church that had not been used for a very long time. It had a small cemetery in its grounds, right next to my barn. I was now in my very early thirties and had all but abandoned religious practices and certainly was not at all superstitious.
The barn was part of a strawberry farm in the county of Kent in England. The nearest town was some 10 miles or so. There was only one road leading to the farm. It was about a mile long and was off a minor isolated street. The road was mostly covered with overgrown shrubs and trees and gave the sensation of driving in a tunnel.
Late one evening there was a freak storm. It was a weekend and I was at home reading. The night sky was animated with never ending streaks of lightning. The rain echoed as it beat on the barn roof and windows.
A very large streak of lightning cracked its thunderous roar taking out the county's power. Darkness descended.
The town lights no longer reflected in the night sky. I looked out the window to 'see' total blackness. Now and then lightning pierced the abyss offering snapshots of the yard in front of the barn. My imagination began to take the better of me.
I drew the curtain and 'felt' my way to the kitchen. I managed to find a cigarette lighter. I scrambled through kitchen draws until I found what was left of a candle. With a burning thumb that had held the lighter too long I lit the candle.
A sense of presence overwhelmed me as the neurons in my brain joined all the pieces of information. My heart began to speed its pace. This was a traditional horror setting - dark stormy night, isolated old house, 17th century church, and an old cemetery joining the barn. All the key ingredients I did NOT want were there.
I grabbed my car keys and made my way to the front door. Luckily I parked my car close to the barn. It was an easy dash. I disabled the alarm from inside the house. The doors automatically unlocked. I stared hard into the ocean of darkness almost expecting some thing to be there. I quickly made my 'get- away'.
I drove about 10 miles to the place I worked. I got to know the security guards quite well and thought I could probably borrow a torch for the night. The building lights were on. The droplets of rain created an aura around the single level building. Their sound was the undertone as the backup generators hummed their tune during the night's symphony.
I asked one of the guards if I could borrow his torch. Unfortunately they only had one torch between them and needed it.  All convenience stores and garages between my barn and work were closed and I wasn't prepared to drive some 30 miles back towards London for a torch. I decided to go home and go to bed. I was sure that within a few hours the power would be restored.
I started to drive back. An uneasy feeling began to grow inside me as the building lights dissipated in the mirror.
I turned off the main road into the hedge covered road leading to my barn. The aura of rain followed the lights of my car.
I drove as close to the front door as I could in order to limit the time I was exposed to the elements of the night. My lights were set on high beams. I looked around. Like the murky waters in an ocean, the darkness swallowed the light, hiding its secrets in the distance. I turned the lights off then the the car engine off. The volume of the night increased. A sense of urgency filled me to get out of there...quick! I tried starting the car but nothing happened. The ferocity of the rain must have shorted the electrics. My heart was about to explode. This can't be happening. This sort of thing only happens in movies. I surveyed the darkened surroundings, identified the front door key as a blind man would and made a dash for it. I opened the door, got in and quickly locked it behind me. No point locking the car the electrics were washed out. I composed myself. I'm safe.... Am I safe? I had left the candle on a small table in the entrance together with the old cigarette lighter. I lit the candle and slowly made my way to the kitchen. I got the largest knife I could find and began searching the barn for that 'thing' that pops out of closets, or under beds, or maybe sits there tucked in the pantry. The thing that always jumps out in horror movies. Every door I opened I rehearsed the events of and exactly where the knife should go.
After checking downstairs I made my way up to the mezzanine, a small bedroom with a trap door that led to the rest of the barn's roof. The 'services' to the barn were accessible by this trap door. In there was where this 'thing' would be, I thought to myself. The thought of searching this part of the house stopped me in my tracks. I had to do it. There was no other option. After a heart stopping reconnaissance I concluded everything was clear.
What was I thinking, of course it was clear. I was safe once again.
I sat downstairs in the lounge with a large knife within easy grasp and a small candle about to extinguish. After some deliberation and lots of 'pep talks' I made my way upstairs for bed.
The nights were cold. The heat would rise so I slept in the bedroom upstairs. This was always about five degrees warmer than the rest of the house.
My bedroom wall was adjacent to the old church cemetery. The cemetery had about a dozen or so tombstones that were hundreds of years old. In the roof of the bedroom was a skylight window. I lay in bed looking at the room flash with each lightning bolt. I fell into a restless, haunting sleep.
A sense of presence jolted me in my bed. I woke in the middle of the night to find four children standing around my bed staring at me. I freaked. As fast as the adrenaline reached my brain the children disappeared.  I grabbed the knife and what was left of the candle that was on the floor next to my bed and ran downstairs. I did not sleep till the lights came back on, some two hours after the event.
I spent days thinking about what had happened. I no longer slept in the bed upstairs. I could not explain the events of that night.
Some time later as I was channel surfing on TV I stumbled on a documentary about Sleep-Paralysis. At last, answers to my long unsolved mystery. I watched the show. It explained how new the research was (in mid 1990's) and dispelled the historical myths of evil spirits, aliens, and the like. This was the answer I had been searching for for close to two decades.
Or was it?
The documentary could account for some of the events but not for others. It raised more questions than it solved. I decided to accept the scientific explanation and forget the episodes.
Berlin. Birth place of the Third Reich and home of the S.S. and infamous Gestapo. I spent a weekend with a friend there shortly after the documentary. I visited all the historical sites including the Gestapo head quarters. There were no Japanese tourists taking photos, no fast food stands selling coke and hot dogs, no gimmick carts with T-Shirts reading 'Been to The Gestapo Headquarters', no guard rails depicting out-of-bounds places to the tourists, in fact not a soul to be seen.
The Gestapo headquarters isolates itself from a world it once tried to control. You can't help feeling you've travelled back in time. The moment you walk onto the site your body and spirit become asynchronous. Sounds of silence pierce your soul. You're alone but you know your spirit is in company. You hear silence but your soul hears the screams. You look around but your spirit feels the pain. It's your inside that tears you away from that place.
I reached Check-Point-Charlie. The gate between East and West. A small art museum filled with stories of 'great escapes', atrocities during the second world war and artwork reflecting the artist's spiritual language. Then, in amongst this fascination, there it was, waiting. Hung on a wall in a small stage, tucked back from all the passing traffic. There, waiting, for me. A painting of a silhouette. The same silhouette that 20 years earlier was also waiting for me. I knew then I had to write 'SLEEP-PARALYSIS'.
(Nikolaos with the silhouette painting behind him - Check-Point- Charlie).