Sleep Has Her House

Sleep Has Her House is a 2017 experimental film shot, written, produced, directed, and edited by British filmmaker, Scott Barley. Like several of his previous short films, Sleep Has Her House was shot on an iPhone. It also features still photography and hand drawn images by the artist.[1]

Sleep Has Her House
Sleep Has Her House poster (2018).jpg
Film poster
Directed byScott Barley
Produced byScott Barley
Written byScott Barley
Music byScott Barley
CinematographyScott Barley
Edited byScott Barley
Ether Films
Release date
September 24, 2017
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film is considered part of the slow cinema movement due to its use of long takes; the longest of which is 11 minutes long, featuring the sun setting until dusk. The film features no dialogue.[2][3]


In a world seemingly devoid of human beings and inhabited by only a select few animals, an undefined presence manifests, embodied as the wind. It passes through the valley, lake, and the woods, leaving only mysterious deaths in its wake. As the night creeps in, the supernatural forces at work transcend into the natural, with apocalyptic consequences.


Sleep Has Her House was directed by Scott Barley, who was also the film's producer, cinematographer, sound designer and editor. It was independently produced through his production company, Ether Films. Sleep Has Her House was not originally made for film festivals or the internet. The film's first draft cut had a duration of four hours, and was planned as an installation where audience members would be welcome to - in the director's own words - "take a nap" during its screening. Barley eventually decided to rework the film into a more condensed, consumable form for the internet and later for festivals, but has not ruled out releasing a longer cut in the future.[2][4]

Principal photography was shot on an iPhone, and took place during 2015 and 2016 in Wales and Scotland, with post-production being completed alongside ongoing production for sixteen months. Some of the sequences in the film consist of up to sixty separate shots invisibly stitched together in post-production, that in some cases took months to render.[4]

The film was completed in December 2016.


Critical responseEdit

Despite a niche audience, the film has received acclaim. In early 2017, it was nominated best "overlooked film" by film critic, Dustin Chang, in IndieWire's 2016 critic's poll, although this was before its official release.[5] James Slaymaker of Mubi Notebook wrote, "Like the great Jean-Marie Straub, Scott Barley creates striking images by returning us to the basics of cinema, the natural world, but abstracting it through profilmic means by reducing the landscape to pure, basic forms [...] If Sleep Has Her House at first calls to mind the expressionist landscapes of Peter Hutton, Victor Sjöström, and Jean-Marie Straub, the formal apocalypse of its final act recalls the smeary digital cacophony of Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel's Leviathan. By removing his filmmaking from any traditional sense of narrative, character, and, even temporal/spatial unity, Barley invites us to see the world—and the cinematic image—anew. Sleep Has Her House is a vital reminder that the most potent visual abstractions can be created through something as simple as the shifting colour of the sky reflected in water, and the most jarring shock can come from a change in lens."[6]

Influential American experimental filmmaker, Phil Solomon wrote of the film, "There are moments within Sleep Has Her House of such exquisite and subtle rendering of ‘moving light in place’ that I have always dreamed of experiencing in the cinema. A black forest film to be entered into only with great care and caution [...] Scott Barley has dared us to imagine a cinema of such fragile - and terrifying - beauty (reclaiming once again that real definition of 'awesome', the sublime) that places both the film and the viewer on equal footing of corporal existence by the closing credits."[7]

The film was later nominated in Sight & Sound's best films of 2017 poll. In casting his vote, writer and film critic, Tom Charity described the film as, "The single most momentous hour and a half in the dark this year, a tenebrous landscape film shapeshifting between reality and nightmare, cinema and dream."[8]

In early 2018, Sleep Has Her House was nominated for best film, best first feature, and best director in The Village Voice 2017 Film Poll.[9]


Sleep Has Her House was awarded Best Film by the official jury at the Fronteira International Documentary & Experimental Film Festival in Goiânia, Brazil.[10][11]


  1. ^ "Sleep Has Her House IMDb page". IMDb. IMDb. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Tao Films - Sleep Has Her House". Tao Films, Scott Barley's Sleep Has Her House trailer and interview with Nadin Mai. Nadin Mai. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Fronteira Jury - About the award winners". Frontier International Documentary & Experimental Film Festival. Fronteira Festival. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b Fawcett, Daniel (Summer 2017). "Interview with Scott Barley" (PDF). Film Panic. 4: 40–41.
  5. ^ Staff, Indiewire. "Dustin Chang: Best Films & Performances of 2016 – Critic Ballot | IndieWire". Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  6. ^ "MUBI Notebook: The Wind that Shakes the Barley / Scott Barley's Sleep Has Her House". MUBI Notebook. James Slaymaker. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Scott Barley". Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  8. ^ "The best films of 2017 – all the votes | Sight & Sound | BFI". Retrieved 2017-12-23.
  9. ^ "Film Poll: The Full Results". Retrieved 2018-02-24.
  10. ^ "Fronteira International Documentary & Experimental Film Festival Awards". Fronteira Festival. FRONTEIRA. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Sleep Has Her House - MUBI page". MUBI. MUBI. Retrieved 28 March 2017.

External linksEdit