Martin Bladh and Karolina Urbaniak’s short film Sandmann (2019) is a poetic take on E. T. A. Hoffmann’s tale of gothic terror The Sandman (1816) and Sigmund Freud’s essay The Uncanny (1919). Hoffmann’s short story became for Freud a fertile ground for his enquiry into concepts of doppelgangers, fear of death, castration anxiety, the evil eye, automatons, return of the repressed and repetition. In their film, based on Freudian leitmotifs, Bladh & Urbaniak retell the key moments of Hoffmann’s peculiar story in which we engage with the haunted inner world of the protagonist Nathaniel. The main focus is the threat of the Sandman figure - who punishes naughty children by ripping out their eyes - and the frightful power this spectre has over Nathaniel throughout his life. The film is also concerned with the mythological, universal concept of the Bogeyman, a figure which is present in almost every culture on Earth. Sandmann has been directed in the way of a symbolist marionette play, choosing a doll with a disembodied voice in the place of a human actor. It’s a condensation, a poem of self-destruction and a desperate yearning for extinction.