TV Review: Doctor Who Series Nine Episode Nine “Sleep No More”

“None Of This Makes Any Sense!”

As a huge advocate of horror movies in general, this week’s episode of Doctor Who attempted to hop aboard the well-and-truly-used trope train that is the “found footage” genre, a film-making technique that has now begun to strike fear into the heart of many critics who believe the invention of franchises such as Paranormal Activity and subsequent admirers, including this years’ terrible The Gallows, have well and truly sealed the fate of the once ground-breaking mode of movie-making which although came to the attention of many with the release of The Blair Witch Project in the late 1990’s, can be traced all the way back to the release of Cannibal Holocaust in the mid-1900’s. For me personally therefore, “Sleep No More” was bound to be an interesting and slightly off-key episode of Doctor Who, yet the signs were inherently positive from the beginning. Doctor Who meets The Blair Witch Project? Sounds unmissable in my book.

Beginning with a notable dismissal of the opening theme tune and credits, something of which I believe has not occurred throughout the shows’ 52 year history, we are introduced to a spectacle-wearing mystery, a man who appears to be the last survivor of a deserted space station, and a man who is very clearly telling us not to watch any of what is to come in the next 45 minutes. Intrigued? Sure, and add into the equation a minor rescue squad and the rather swift introduction of some rather eerie deathly creatures, this weeks’ episode sets the tone straight away, with “Sleep No More” essentially being Doctor Who meets Event Horizon with a dash of Blair Witch, and it’s rather brilliant. Although it can be easily argued that Who has kind of missed the boat when it comes to embracing the lost art of the found footage genre, it can also equally be argued that with all the nonsensical releases that adhere to such a format released in the past few years, that Who in 45 minutes has accomplished what some feature films completely miss out on, a sense of threat and drama which uses the found footage technique to its’ advantage in creating a spooky and fundamentally organic episode of Doctor Who, of which, I believe, will be one of the most memorable episodes of the Capaldi era in years to come.

Where the episode strangely both succeeds and fails is in its’ attempt to coherently paint a picture of what is actually happening aboard the spaceship, with the Doctor’s ramblings of “None of this makes any sense!” essentially mirroring the exact same feelings from the viewer with Mark Gatiss’ script obviously attempting to be rather ambiguous in a similar vein to last years’ Series 8 episode, “Listen”, a trait I believe will cause some viewers to underrate the episode because of its’ desire to not paint out a whole picture by the numbers and instead leave it dangling by a titillating thread. Ending on a rather spooky cliff-hanger, “Sleep No More” continues the trend of Series 9’s surprising consistency, mixing the found-footage genre in with the sci-fi wonder that is The Doctor and Clara’s ventures around time and space, making it for me personally, one of the best of Capaldi’s reign so far.

Overall Score: 9/10

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Posted on 16/11/2015, in Film & TV, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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