Clark Collis
April 26, 2017 AT 12:00 PM EDT

In the new horror film Dead Awake, Jocelin Donahue from The House of the Devil plays a straight-laced social worker who finds herself plunged into a world of supernatural terror while investigating a series of mysterious deaths. Each victim suffered from a chilling condition known as sleep paralysis, a nightmarish assault on the senses that immobilizes its victims as they dream. As a terrifying entity begins to haunt Kate’s friends and loved ones, she must fight to stay awake to stop the nightmare she’s unleashed.

Dead Awake is directed by Phillip Guzman and written by Jeffrey Reddick, whose credits include dreaming up the concept behind the hugely successful Final Destination franchise and co-writing that series’ initial entry, which was released in 2000. “Usually when we go to sleep at night, our brain shuts our bodies down, so we don’t act out our dreams,” Reddick explained to EW last year. “Sleep paralysis happens when your brain wakes up, but your body doesn’t click that switch. So, you’ll wake up, but you can’t move your body. It’s really terrifying. Your brain’s synapses start firing, and people hallucinate. There’s a common theme of feeling like something evil is in the room with them or there’s something on their chest suffocating them. A lot of people report seeing an old woman sitting on their chest, suffocating them. The ‘Night Hag’ is what it’s called. In the olden days, they thought this Night Hag was visiting people at night and sucking the life out of them. I’m always drawn to real-life stories, and it was fun to delve into that nightmare territory.”

Dead Awake costars Lori Petty, Jesse Bradford, Jesse Borrego, Brea Grant, and James Eckhouse. Watch the film’s trailer and an exclusive — and rather intense — clip, above.

Dead Awake is released in theaters and on demand, May 12.

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