Directed by: William Malone
Starring: Dylan Purcell, Patrick Kilpatrick and Jeffrey Combs
For those of you complaining about too many remakes and not enough creativity in horror, I hope that you make plans to find William Malone’s latest PARASOMNIA upon its release. A fairy tale of sorts that weaves a web of violence, music and art into a fascinating and fiercely original work of art. The only minor comparison might possibly be to HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2 in terms of the dreamscape that appears in the film. But what Mr. Malone has created is quite a different canvas, as it is inspired by the paintings of Zdzislaw Beksinski. He was a fascinating artist who created nightmarish worlds and very darkly humorous images that are atmospheric and disturbing. But what makes this feature even more fascinating is the Sleeping Beauty quality when this fairy tale delves into darker territory than the usual fare. This is a blood soaked and moody set that is balanced by a strong visual style and a stunning score thanks to Nicholas Pike.
The opening sequence involves a woman receiving a phone call, who then proceeds to step on a very high ledge and let herself fall. The woman is played by Sean Young and it seems to be a very small cameo for the actress. Yet it is a powerful image that unravels as we meet the rest of the players. The main protagonist is an obsessive and strange young man named Danny Sloan (Dylan Purcell). While visiting his friend who was forced to check into rehab, he happens upon a young woman who spends her life asleep. The girl, Laura Baxter (Cherilyn Wilson) suffers from a disorder called “parasomnia”. Instantly attracted to the sleeping beauty, Danny realizes that the girl has another suitor. Locked in the next room, he is a man by the name of Byron Volpe (Patrick Kilpatrick) who is shackled by his hands and feet for crimes he seems to have “willed” others to do. When Byron realizes that this young man has fallen for his dream paramour, a deadly game ensues. One which is partially fought in the never-ending dream world of Laura.
I would go into the details about plot, but this is the kind of movie you should know as little about as possible. At first, I found the film to be strange and sort of off-putting as the editing seemed to almost be random. But as the story unfolds, it makes sense as what Mr. Malone (who also wrote the script) has created is his own strange work of art that is far more than just a slasher flick. This is a brave and inspiring piece that develops it’s characters and the world they live it. It is truly shot as if it were a dream, as the clouds in the sky quickly move above and the odd close ups and strange angles reveal that there is much that is hidden in this modern day fable. And aside from a few character actors, this is mostly a fresh faced cast with both Wilson and Purcell giving very appealing performances. I especially appreciated the grey area that surrounds Purcell’s character Danny. The actions he carries out are questionable to say the least, as his obsession seems to corrupt his ability to make a wise decision. But this is not a flaw in the film, not at all, it is a very smart move to make Danny a complex and sometimes weak individual.
As for Byron Volpe, Mr. Kilpatrick is a wonderful addition to the world of horror villains. He is smart, funny and especially brutal. He offers some of the same strength as Tony Todd did in CANDYMAN. After all, this is a bleak tale of romance that needs a charming baddie, and he fits the bill perfectly. While occasionally, some of the smaller players didn’t seem as strong as they should have, it was nice to see the criminally underrated Timothy Bottoms as the doctor looking after his sleeping patient. It was also quite a pleasure to see Jeffrey Combs as a detective drawn into this story of murder and mayhem. Both actors are terrific and add a touch of heart to the film.
My only complaint aside from a couple of editing choices lies in the final few frames. It may have dragged just a bit too long as the love triangle collides into violence and death. But this is a minor grievance as I was already invested in the characters, so it didn‘t take away from the film. Now the question is, was it really that gruesome? And yes, while it may not be the most shocking when it comes to the gore, it certainly will satisfy most genre fans as the red stuff flows in a creative and painful way. You could call it art-house horror, as it is something that I’ve never seen before and something that I’d love to experience again. And with a limited budget, William Malone found a way to breath new life into a remake weary world of horror. While there is no official release date, I hope that we are treated to a theatrical release of this wildly inventive film. My rating 8.5/10 -- JimmyO