The 7 Best Sleep Paralysis Movies of All Time, Ranked

Few things are scarier than sleep paralysis. These horror movies do a great job of capturing the terrifying phenomenon!
The 7 Best Sleep Paralysis Movies of All Time, Ranked

If you buy something using our links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Experiencing the sleep paralysis phenomenon in real-life is terrifying—to be partly awake in a sleeping body and see creepy figures lurking in the dark. It can make you fear dreams, going to bed, or even the idea of falling back asleep again.

Sleep paralysis has been featured as a topic of several horror movies. The sleep paralysis phenomenon is enough on its own to chill and frighten, but filmmakers add twists of their own to ramp things up. When it captures the feeling of the real deal? Horrifying.

Here are our picks for the best sleep paralysis movies worth watching if you want to be scared to sleep yourself.

7. Come True (2020)

Directed by Anthony Scott Burns

Starring Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron, Carlee Ryski

Horror, Sci-Fi (1h 45m)

6.0 on IMDb85% on RT

The Canadian film Come True follows the story of Sarah (played by Julia Sarah Stone) who volunteers for a sleep study. The study, however, messes up her life and causes her to lose her grip on reality.

The sci-fi side of the film centers on the team studying what lies beyond subconsciousness. However, dreams are not all fantasies, and most nightmares are filled with ominous figures—like the shadow man.

What's worse is that their experiment seems to bring those nightmarish creatures out of the dream world into the real one!

Come True is a mind-blowing film featuring the horrors of the vast and unknown realm of dreams and nightmares, as well as the traumatic episodes of sleepwalking and sleep paralysis.

6. Shadow People (2013)

Directed by Matthew Arnold

Starring Dallas Roberts, Alison Eastwood, Mattie Liptak

Horror, Thriller (1h 29m)

5.3 on IMDbN/A on RT

In the film Shadow People, Dallas Roberts plays the role of Charlie Crowe, a radio talk show host who believes that numerous mysterious deaths are caused by the "shadow people."

Accompanying him is Sophie Lacombe (played by Alison Eastwood), an investigator from a health agency who has a totally opposite view of the cases: the existence of the shadow people is a hoax.

The film includes portions of interviews from the documentary Your Worst Nightmare, featuring real people who experienced sleep paralysis and encountered these so-called shadow people first-hand.

5. Dead Awake (2016)

Directed by Phillip Guzman

Starring Jocelin Donahue, Jesse Bradford, Jesse Borrego

Drama, Horror, Mystery (1h 39m)

4.6 on IMDb11% on RT

Dead Awake is the story of Kate (played by Jocelin Donahue), a social worker who investigates the death of her sister Beth, along with others that happen to have suffered from sleep paralysis before death.

She consults a doctor who tells her that a demon is terrorizing and killing people in their sleep, which she insists has no relevance to the case and is just a superstitious belief to be ignored.

As she digs deeper into it, it starts happening to her—and she needs to stop it before it kills her.

The best part of the movie is when she starts to fall asleep and a creepy woman crawls with her thin hands. Though she sees it clearly, she can do nothing because her body is sleeping and can't move an inch.

4. Mara (2018)

Directed by Clive Tonge

Starring Olga Kurylenko, Craig Conway, Javier Botet

Crime, Horror, Mystery (1h 38m)

5.1 on IMDb28% on RT

Mara is the story of a criminal psychologist who investigates the murder of a man, which sparks a string of supernatural murders.

The story starts with a wife killing her husband, who's then brought to a mental institution on recommendation of a psychologist.

As the story goes on, she suffers sleep paralysis and sees a womanly figure approaching her, which makes her afraid to go to sleep. She manages to find the link between the killings—and it isn't natural.

The best part of the film is whenever Mara, the demonic figure causing death, appears in a scene—whether behind a silky curtain or hovering above the victim in bed.

3. Slumber (2017)

Directed by Jonathan Hopkins

Starring Maggie Q, Will Kemp, Sophia Wiseman

Horror (1h 24m)

4.7 on IMDbN/A on RT

Just like Mara and Dead Awake, Slumber features the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, but this time it's happening to a family.

As a sleep doctor, Alice (played by Maggie Q) believes the family's problem is something that can be explained by science and is just a product of their imagination.

But as the story progresses, she's caught up in the very same disturbance that the family is experiencing.

With a demon terrorizing their sleep, they have to figure out how to survive the night of unexplainable and life-threatening events, injecting the horrifying plot with tension.

One of the best parts of the film is when the boy—experiencing sleep paralysis with eyes open—wants to speak and his body stiffens. We can feel his fear and how he struggles, fighting something only he can see.

2. The Nightmare (2015)

Directed by Rodney Ascher

Starring Nicole Bosworth, Stephen Joseph, Estrella Cristina

Documentary, Horror (1h 31m)

5.7 on IMDb67% on RT

The Nightmare is a documentary film directed by Rodney Ascher that focuses on the sleep paralysis experience.

The story is based on real-life experiences of people, which are reenacted and given terrifying backgrounds, sounds, and other film elements to make the storytelling darker and scarier.

What makes the film great is how it covers the topic in a way that everyone can relate to, with the participants (or the storytellers) themselves becoming victims of sleep paralysis.

Even if you haven't experienced it yourself, this documentary will give you a taste of what to expect (or what you might encounter) during the terrifying phenomenon. Be wary of the shadow man!

1. Disarray (2017)

Directed by Patrick Stagg

Starring Cody Wozniak

Short, Horror (10m)

6.4 on IMDb — N/A on RT

Disarray is a short film from Waterhouse Films that centers on a man who suffers from a sleeping problem: recurring events of sleep paralysis, with different creatures each night.

The film features a creepy shadow man entity, which we can see slip past the main character's point of view.

In only a few minutes, we see why he fears sleep and why he keeps himself awake as long as he can—just to avoid the frightening monsters that terrorize his sleep.

The best part is the scene where the shadow man enters his room and crawls into bed. The sound of his heart pumping faster as he catches his every breath is something all sleep paralysis victims relate to.