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Mathew St. Patrick,
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Jonathan David Moses
In "Parasomnia," a stylish horror/thriller from director William Malone ("House on Haunted Hill," "Masters of Horror,") Laura Baxter is a young woman, literally a "sleeping beauty," who suffers from a medical condition called "parasomnia." A childhood accident victim, she is actually sleeping her life away, awakening briefly on rare occasions. Art student Danny Sloan falls in love with her, unaware that her hospital neighbor, a terrifying mass murderer and mesmerist named Byron Volpe has other, more sinister plans. Sloan helps Laura escape from her hospital prison only to discover that Volpe is about to enter her dreams. Written by
An occasionally hypnotic movie that hopes not to send you to sleep.
Writer-director William Malone - I have enjoyed his work ever since seeing House On Haunted Hill so I was looking forward to Parasomnia, the premise sounded interesting to say the least.
It's your standard boy meets girl tale except in this case the girl (Laura, played by the gorgeous Cherilyn Wilson) happens to have a rare medical condition that causes her to fall asleep and stay sleeping for extended periods of time (days, weeks, large chunks of her life). And, in the hospital housing her, in the room next door to her is a lunatic (Byron Volpe, played by Patrick Kilpatrick) who can hypnotise people into committing deadly acts so is consequently kept chained and covered with a hood lest anyone ever see his powerful gaze. He claims that the girl is his even when young Danny (Dylan Purcell) decides to take her away from the hospital and to spend his life with her. The situation is further complicated when Volpe gets inside Laura's head and makes her his murdering mannequin. Things ain't looking so good.
With its wealth of ideas and it's offbeat nature, not forgetting the presence of the great Jeffrey Combs, it seems that William Malone wants to be the next Stuart Gordon. But then he throws in some impressive design work and spooky moments that make you think of Clive Barker. That's the problem here. Despite the original touches and the blending of ideas, all of this feels like it would have been better in the hands of someone else. Malone is a competent guy but it seems as if he overstretched himself here, probably thanks to a budget that wouldn't be able to meet his imagination. Probably.
The acting is all okay, the central love story is both sweet and slightly disturbing, and the movie has some good moments dotted throughout (especially one scene accompanied by one of Prokofiev's most famous musical number) but it all falls far short of making for a cohesive, consistently entertaining, whole.
See this if you like: The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, Cure, Hellbound: Hellraiser II.
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