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?
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 FIRST OCCURRENCE
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.
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
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
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.
INTO THE DARKNESS
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.
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
VISITORS IN THE
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
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
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?
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.
GHOSTS OF A DISTANT
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
the silhouette painting behind him - Check-Point-