Don’t Go To Sleep might be the most disturbing TV movie of all time. This movie, which traumatized a generation of kids, would never ever ever be made for TV today. It’s also one of those special movies that features an ambiguous ending. We know that Phillip (Dennis Weaver) and Laura (Valerie Harper) lost their daughter Jennifer (Kristin Cummings) a year ago in a wreck. We know that their other daughter, Mary (Robin Ignico), thinks Jennifer is haunting her. Also, we definitely know that Phillip, their son Kevin (Oliver Robins), and Laura’s mother, Bernice (Ruth Gordon), are mysteriously killed during the course of the movie. But that’s all we can be sure of. We don’t know if Jennifer is a ghost or a demon or a hallucination, and we don’t know if Mary is possessed or doing ghost Jennifer/demon Jennifer’s bidding or just insane.
The best part is that a person’s interpretation of who is doing the killing is entirely based on what they think they know about something. Those who don’t believe in life after death will say that Mary was the killer, but then did she have a split personality? Some people no longer believe in split personalities. Then there are those who think Jennifer was a ghost who did the killing. And then there are religious people who think all ghosts are actually demons. Of course, there are non-religious people who think it’s a demon too, and some even think they have proof because the house in which the story takes place has a 666 in the address number.
You could go around and around with this one. It’s really a ghoulish story that I probably shouldn’t spend time thinking about. Nobody in the family is at all likeable except for Laura, and everyone is a little bit to blame for Jennifer’s death. But then, Jennifer isn’t likeable either. I’m not even sure what Phillip and Laura’s last name is, but it sure as hell isn’t Freeling. This is horror combined with delicious family drama trash, like eating a cheeseburger while taking bites of a schadenfreude-flavored ice cream sundae in between bites of the burger, instead of having dinner and then dessert afterwards. Is anyone really surprised that this is an Aaron Spelling joint? I don’t really have an opinion about the big explanation this time, because I think it’s deliberately ambiguous. But what fun people can have overthinking Don’t Go To Sleep! It’s almost like some kind of psychological test for the viewer, only who knows how to interpret what your opinion says about you? This was never brought to DVD, so watch it where you can find it. Sweet dreams!