Is Sleeping With the Enemy a Scary Movie?

When it comes to the genre of horror movies, there are a few classics that come to mind. One such classic is “Sleeping With the Enemy”, a 1991 psychological thriller directed by Joseph Ruben and starring Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin, and Kevin Anderson.

But the question remains – is “Sleeping With the Enemy” a scary movie? Let’s explore.

Plot Summary

The movie follows the story of Laura Burney (Julia Roberts), who appears to be living the perfect life – a beautiful home, a wealthy husband, and everything that money can buy. However, as the movie progresses, we find out that her husband Martin (Patrick Bergin) is an abusive and controlling partner who makes Laura’s life miserable.

Fed up with his behavior, Laura fakes her own death and starts a new life in a small town under an assumed name. But Martin isn’t one to give up easily and begins tracking her down.

Psychological Thriller

“Sleeping With the Enemy” is classified as a psychological thriller because it plays on our fears of being trapped in an abusive relationship and not being able to escape. The movie uses tension-building techniques such as suspenseful music, jump scares, and close-up shots of Julia Roberts’ terrified face to keep audiences on edge throughout the film.

The Fear Factor

In terms of traditional horror elements such as gore or supernatural beings, “Sleeping With the Enemy” may not fit the bill. However, it doesn’t need those elements to be scary. The fear comes from knowing that this kind of abuse can happen in real life and how difficult it can be for victims to escape their abusers.

The Abusive Relationship

The movie explores themes such as domestic violence and control within relationships. It sheds light on how abusers use their power dynamic to manipulate and control their partners. The fear in the movie comes from the audience’s understanding of how helpless Laura feels in her situation.

The Stalking

Another aspect of the movie that adds to its fear factor is Martin’s stalking of Laura. He uses his resources to track down Laura and terrorizes her in her new life. This taps into our primal fear of being followed and hunted, which makes “Sleeping With the Enemy” an unsettling watch.


In conclusion, “Sleeping With the Enemy” may not be a traditional horror movie, but it certainly has enough elements to scare audiences. The psychological thriller genre allows for a more nuanced exploration of fears and emotions, which this movie does expertly. It serves as a sober reminder of how real and terrifying abusive relationships can be, making it a must-watch for anyone interested in exploring these themes through film.