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Movie Review: "Sleepstalker: The Sandman's Last Rites" (1995)
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers.
ve always known the Sandman to be a kind-spirited children's character, something akin to the Tooth Fairy. That's not the case in "Sleepstalker: The Sandman's Last Rites". Now he's a horror character in the vein of Jason, Freddy, and Michael. He's a supernatural killer made out of sand, thus allowing him to travel through air ducts, vents, keyholes, and even beneath doors. But he seems to have a problem with water though.
It sounds like an interesting idea on paper, but the overall execution itself is a huge miss. "Sleepstalker" only has two things going for it -- The soundtrack which consists of one very chilling song; and one of the most nightmarish flashback sequences ever filmed. The cast in "Sleepstalker" is quite laughable, the only real actor in this movie is Giuseppe Andrews whom plays the younger version of Sandman... and he doesn't speak one line of dialogue.
Once Upon a Time...
The most intriguing aspect of "Sleepstalker" is none other than the Sandman's backstory itself. The generic and uninteresting events that unfold in the story's present day scenes are incapable of being anything remotely special. It is also the least-explained part of the story, which is sad because it really is one of those things that gets under your skin.
It goes like this... Griffin and Sandman's father became abusive at some point after the mother had died, he sewed Sandman's mouth shut and locked him in his room where an old record player continuously plays the film's lullaby theme ("Sleep, baby, sleep..."). He came in every night, subjecting Sandman to numerous beatings. Until one day, Sandman fought back and killed his father. Having escaped his abuser, he found comfort and shelter in the hands of the satanic preacher.
Many questions arise from this backstory, for instance:
- How did the mother die?
- How long did Sandman go with his mouth sewn like that? It couldn't have been longer than a week without food or water.
- Why didn't the father sew baby Griffin's mouth as well? He kept crying all throughout the flashback scenes, I'm sure it must have drove him crazy.
- After killing and escaping his father, why didn't Sandman take baby Griffin with him? He was in sitting in a cot that was inside the same bedroom as Sandman. Are we supposed to believe that he just ran off and left the poor little kid by himself?
The Priest from Hell
Michael D. Roberts plays 'The Preacher'. This is the guy who took young Sandman under his care after having escaped his abusive father. This guy is just as bad as the Sandman. I know the abuse he took from his dad was one thing, but Sandman probably wouldn't have grown up to be so psychotic if it weren't for a crazy priest taking his place.
This preacher character actually raises young Sandman to be the crazed murderer that we see him to be in the film. Some sick role model if you ask me. What priest in his right mind would encourage these sick acts? Just before Sandman sits in the gas chamber in prison, the preacher blesses him with the power to be reborn as a supernatural being and instructs him to kill his younger brother.
Die, Griffin, Die
Speaking of younger brother, I can't help but ask... why Griffin? Why must he die? This is where everything gets confusing. Crazy father abuses his children, older brother kills crazy father in order to save himself and younger brother; priest takes older brother under his wing, raises him to be evil, and orders him to kill younger brother?
Wasn't it the priest's goal to help heal the pain and suffering Sandman experienced at the hands of his father? How does killing his younger brother help to accomplish this?
What's My Age Again?
While this isn't one of the biggest problems in "Sleepstalker", it certainly is a noticeable one nonetheless. The ages of Griffin and Sandman throughout the different time periods of the film don't quite hold up. In the beginning where Griffin's foster parents are killed, he is seven whereas Sandman appears to be in his late 20's or early 30's at least.
When they were both kids, Griffin was just a baby (maybe 1-2 years old minimum) and Sandman looks like he's at least 12-14 years old. So that would make him 19-21 when he kills Griffin's foster parents. He certainly doesn't look 19-21 to me, not by a long shot.
- Book Review: Sandman Mystery Theatre
I should probably break this series down by individual volumes, of which i have so far read 8. I may post additional reviews later on, but this one will serve as an overview. When I have time later on, I may revisit the various trade paperback...
- Sleepstalker (1996) - IMDb
Directed by Turi Meyer. With Michael Harris, Jay Underwood, Kathryn Morris, Michael D. Roberts. Seventeen years after slaughtering all but one member of a family, a vicious serial killer known only as "The Sandman" awaits execution...
A children's poem about sweet dreams.