Several years back, an urban legend dubbed the “Russian Sleep Experiment” began to circulate around the internet, a Creepypasta that claimed Soviet researchers had used an experimental stimulant back in the 1940s to keep five people awake for 15 consecutive days. If you’ve never read the full Creepypasta, well, let’s just say things get crazy from there.
Like many internet urban legends, this one seems to be quite untrue, but we’ve just learned that the tale is being adapted into a feature film that just began shooting.
Barry Andersson is directing The Soviet Sleep Experiment, a psychological thriller based loosely upon the urban legend. The press release tells us that “Andersson has pulled together an ensemble cast of international actors to tell this suspenseful story of a married research team who, under close watch of the Red Army, set out to study the effects of forced sleep deprivation on four patients locked inside an observation chamber for 30 days.”
Dr. Anna Antonoff is played by Argentinian actress Eva De Dominici (You Shall Not Sleep), and her husband Dr. Leo Antonoff is played by Polish actor Rafal Zawierucha (Roman Polanksi in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, due out in 2019). The USSR Captain Yegor Sokolov is played by Russian actor Evgeny Krutov (Stranger Things Season 3) and represents the overshadowing Red Army back in Moscow overseeing the experiment.
The four test patients plucked from the gulag and promised their freedom in exchange for their participation include Chris Kattan (SNL, A Night at the Roxbury); Minnesota-based actors Charles Hubbell (Walking With the Enemy), Paul Cram (Wilson); and Michael Villar (Skin).
Andersson is partnering with Emmy and Peabody Award-winning makeup artist Crist Ballas (member of the Academy Award-winning team for JJ Abrams’ Star Trek) to executive produce The Soviet Sleep Experiment. Ballas also serves as production designer for the film, which called for building a period-accurate Soviet bunker meant to resemble an isolated 1940s testing facility. He and his crew also built a Jules Vern-inspired chamber to house the four patients for the duration of the experiment.
Andersson hopes to start shopping the finished film in Spring of 2019 to potential distributors for release both domestically and internationally.