Can a sleepwalker commit murder? Mark Schall admits being guilty of murdering his mother-in-law. In his defense, a team of lawyers attempt to prove that while Mark did in fact carry out murder, he was not awake when it happened.
Mark Schall kills his mother-in-law and wounds his father-in-law in the middle of the night, then turns himself in. He claims, however, that he cannot remember the crime itself. His defense team finds evidence that suggests the crimes were committed while Mark was sleep walking. They build their defense around this theory.Written by
Mike Borzumate <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It's difficult to say with definitive certainty what the punishment should be for a person who commits a murder and legitimately does not recall it. Is it fair to let him loose, even with the looming thought that they do in fact recall what they did? Or is it fair to lock him up on murder charges when there is the idea that they do not remember what they did? This is the ethical dilemma in John Cosgrove's The Sleepwalker Killing, a Lifetime mystery that bases its plot off a real-life incident. But this incident isn't the only sleepwalking-murder in the world. Just looking up "sleepwalking murders" on the internet generates several hundred links of news articles, videos, and reports detailing dozens of incidents. One could reasonably infer that some of the cases are inauthentic, but to assume that all of them feature a suspect who doesn't want to make up a plausible alibi is simply foolish and impractical.
This particular story concerns Mark Schall (Jeffrey Nordling), who murders his mother-in-law and significantly injures his father-in-law in the middle of the night after making the short drive over there - all of which he did when he claims he was sleeping. He suddenly begins to recall things more clearly after the incident, rushing to a police station covered in blood, coldly saying, "I think I killed someone." He claims to only remember the most vague images from the night of the murders, which leads a special psychiatrist to investigate if he was sleepwalking during the event. In the mix of this, he finds cautious support from his wife Lauren (Hillary Swank) and no support from his mother-in-law's side of the family, who views him as a heartless murderer. Close family knows that he was nothing of the sort and a loving, compassionate man towards his mother-in-law and her family. But many of them find the case pretty inexcusable (be honest, wouldn't you?). The additional information on Mark isn't so pretty, as well, detailing a history of gambling debts, family/marital lies, and mixed signals, all of which don't bear much for his defense.
At the very least, this sets up an interesting, serviceable mystery, even if the film is entirely plagued by the shortcomings of hammy acting and the presence of a very ponderous narrative. The Sleepwalker Killing works on the level that it holds your attention because you're intrigued out of pure curiosity's sake, but flounders in the sense of giving you what a film should in a complete package.
Starring: Hillary Swank and Jeffrey Nordling. Directed by: John Cosgrove.
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