Having watched a host of independently-made films, you witness all types of production values, low and high, but what makes them interesting for me isn’t necessarily the scale of the story, it’s the characters and how easily they interact with each other. Red Sleep is a compellingly put-together piece of work, running as a Neo-Noir web series originally back from 2014, it’s surprisingly high in narrative, the actors involved and intelligently merged directorial choices and, oddly, one of those that makes you wonder why more people haven’t seen it.
Written and Directed by Andre Welsh, who also edits and provides the cinematography, the series stars Chioke Jelani Clanton as Clyde, alongside Ron Kaell, Jessica Sonneborn, and Don Stark, amongst a larger ensemble. Going under the initial premise of following an escaped prison inmate, our lead ends up making a deal with the U.S. military to basically take part in a drug experiment in exchange for his freedom. Then, after taking on a new identity in Los Angeles, there’s something else going on as the side effects from the drug, and his past, begin to catch up with him.
Without giving too much away, and literally seeing this as a teaser to the series itself, it’s clear that deep voices and mysterious happenings are going to rule the roost here but it has something captivating lurking beneath it all. Walsh also shoots this in a way that suits the material, it’s all grainy and bleached out and because of this unspecific nature, especially at the start, it fits the context perfectly.
With Red Sleep, I enjoyed the unknown and felt this is all about that. It’s also got an odd gaming vibe going on, if you remember the game XVII, there’s a drug induced confusion, there’s people doing things under the table, dodgy deals, secrets and good performances that keep you intrigued. Sure, the drama-level is high and the story isn’t always perfect but it’s oddly watchable and unusually addictive.