Bold Futures’ ‘ALL THE WORLD IS SLEEPING’ (2023) – Full Review

All The World Is Sleeping is a powerful new drama that features SCREAM VI star, Melissa Barrera.

All The World is Sleeping Synopsis

Chama (Melissa Barrera), who as a young girl in New Mexico, strived to be different from her mother. Now in her twenties, she’s found herself falling into a similar cycle of generational addiction. This struggle threatens her balance as a mother to her own daughter. As Chama tries to keep it all together, a harrowing accident will spiral her out of control, causing her daughter to be taken from her custody.

Ryan Lacen (End of Watch (2012) (read our interview with Ryan here) wrote and directed the film. It co-stars Jackie Cruz (My Own Worst Enemy (2008), Jorge Garcia (Lost (2010), and Kristen Lee Gutoskie (The Handmaid’s Tale (2021).

“What’s worse than being invisible? Being seen as disposable.” ~Chama

The Setup

Chama’s mantra is “I can make my daughter happy,” chased with “I can keep my shit together.”  She’s doing her best with what she has, but combats a double life. Chama is a sincere mother who would do anything for her daughter. She looks for work earnestly to be a providing parent. However, she’s unable to pass “Brown Street” on the bus without taking the stop and knocking on heaven’s door. Then before Chama knows it, the sun is down, she’s missing shoes, and late for picking up her daughter after school, again.

Her daughter seems to be the only thing holding Chama together, but she’s aware that she has it backwards. Chama should be the one holding things together for her daughter. This eats away at her willpower, until the reoccurring thought which doesn’t respond to reason, commands her to blot out her intolerable situation. Not using is like holding her breath. This is true suffering.

“Two girls drinking at a party, one stops when it’s empty, for the other it never ends” ~Chama

Her codependent best friend Toaster (Jackie Cruz – My Own Worst Enemy (2008) who seems to “always make things better” is just an oasis. One that makes her feel not alone. Together they can rationalize and minimize any means to keep breathing, aka get loaded.

If only it were that easy, and addiction wasn’t progressive, this coping mechanism would make things manageable. However, with using, things only get worse, never better. Sometimes slowly, sometimes faster. For Chama, her using progresses faster than Toasters. Her life is at risk, her only sister has left her. Her child’s father is incarcerated, and her mother dies with a needle in her arm. Now Chama’s latest overdose has forced the state to strip her daughter away.

All The World Is Sleeping

Another trip to the hospital leads to the discovery of another difficult decision. She has to do the right thing and get sober, but she is turned away several times daily at inpatient programs. Chama is forced to detox herself at home, however, somewhere in her life she has crossed an invisible line of the power of choice. The haunting childhood trauma, psychosis-induced lucid hallucinations, and physical pain smash her desire to be clean. The cycle.

In a brief dope sick moment, Chama looks at Toaster during a confrontation as if she sees her mother or herself in a morbid reflection. She confesses she wants to stop, get help and run away from the shit she feels every day. In a moment of clarity, She turns her back on Toaster and is determined to get help. Some addicts call this “Step Zero – this shit has to stop”. Charma realizes she can’t do this alone and refuses to give up on her daughter, despite any uphill trudge.

Chama finally gets a break and gets an inpatient detox. She only has the capacity to count the ceiling tiles, scratch her hand, and touch the bedpost with her foot. Chama has some more luck when she gets out of detox and finds a bed at an inpatient rehab. There she meets like-minded people, and where she’ll have to confront the things that have been driving her. For the first time, Chama has a chance to pick up the tools of recovery and rebuild her life.

“Nothing in life is fair, no-one is normal, but there’s beauty in the world if you’d like to see it.” ~Nick

The Reality

When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness like cancer, all are understanding and supportive. People reach out to help, run marathons to help donate, or bring awareness for treatment research.

Well, it isn’t that way for addiction. With addiction comes the destruction of all the things worthwhile in life. It engulfs all life proxies to the sufferers. It brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, disgusted friends, abandonment by family, and warped lives of blameless children. It’s a tragedy. Not a choice.

Now imagine you’re in a marginalized population, a minority single mother with no family or support system that is suffering from an illness beyond your mental control. You’re unemployable and alone. The state takes your child away. You’re discarded, criminalized, and left for dead. It’s a real-life horror story.

“The two worst words in the English dictionary ‘What if’…” ~Nell


In 2017 a reproductive justice-based non-profit, Bold Futures NM, gathered 7 system-impacted women with a history of substance use and pregnancy to create an artistic medium that would explore the complexities of trauma, substance use, and parenting in New Mexico. Over the course of several months and hours of conversation and community building, the insight derived through this facilitated group process evolved into the foundation of an unlikely feature film highlighting characters with authenticity and heart.

This unique film was created with the aim of pushing back against the stigma faced by pregnant women and people living through addiction.

All the World is Sleeping sheds light on the realities of addiction and the resources that are so desperately needed for families living in cycles of addiction. This film centers on the complex role of motherhood, addresses generational cycles of addiction, and beautifully highlights a community not often represented in films.

All the World is Sleeping (2023) Final Thoughts

Writer/director Ryan Lacen “As a director, whose own family has been affected by addiction, Ryan Lacen’s intention was to create a film that felt truthful” and my hat is all the way off to him. I may have shown my hand in this lengthy review, but recovery is the closest card I keep to my heart. Being a survivor as a generational addict, the words flow when I broach the topic. Melissa Barrera was phenomenal in this and I believe the sky is the limit for her. Her authenticity and passion bled through on many levels. Overall, All the World is Sleeping struck many chords and needs to be talked about more.

All The World is Sleeping is available On Digital now, watch the trailer below!

About Sean Stewart

Father. Husband. Artist. Writer. Horror Fanboy.

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