February 23, 2012

Filthy Review - The Sleeper

The Sleeper (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

The slasher sub-genre is sometimes looked upon as the red-headed step-child of horror. It’s looked down upon by many, with the simplistic set-ups and plotting; invariably involving teenagers, sex and the deaths of said teenagers. In my eyes though they have always been the popcorn of horror; fun party flicks in which you don’t need to engage your brain. In fact several of my favorite horror flicks are indeed from the early 1980’s slasher boom. There’s just something about the look of them, the smell, the sheer stupidity of the entire cast, save for the one survivor of course.

If the 1980’s were the beginning, middle and end of this sub-genre, and yes I am well aware the pioneers were released in the 1970’s, it doesn’t necessarily mean it wanted to stay dead. There have been many movies since that have taken the simple formula and had the audacity to try and smarten them up, give them brains if you will. I tell you what, give the brains to the zombies and leave them out of my slasher flicks thank you very much. Self-reference and high-tech gadgetry is all good and well, and many of these new slasher flicks have been excellent, but I want to see some old school action. Hell, even Rob Zombie’s Halloween didn’t feel like a slasher flick and the original helped start the freaking genre.

All that, in an exceptionally long-winded and quite potentially time wasting couple of paragraphs, leads me into The Sleeper. I really did not know much, if anything, about this movie until someone mentioned it to me. So, I did a little research, saw a couple of adverts and thought that I should try and check it out. I mean, the artwork alone reeks of an old school slasher flick. The proof though would be in the movie itself.

Am I going to bore you with plot details? Not really, other than to say that the movie is set in 1981, although it opens with a kind of backstory in 1979, and focuses on a claw hammer wielding maniac who has taken to stalking, phoning and killing the girls of Theta house. Amy is the new girl there, and she’s deciding whether she wants to join or not, but in between the dodgy phone calls, in which the killer harks on about putting them to sleep, and the matronly house mother, I would say that she is probably best getting far away from there. She doesn’t of though.

Is there any deep meaning behind everything? Not that I could ascertain, not that I was really looking for any. Instead we move from scene to scene as the killer finds an isolated victim and proceeds to kill them, and some of the death scenes of pretty juicy and none-too-subtle. Which is just what the doctor ordered. Possibly the very same doctor that is played by genre favorite Joe Bob Briggs in the movie.

On the downside of this movie there are the usual problems, in as much as the acting is nothing special, although that is to be expected, and due to the fact that the movie is set in 1981 I was constantly looking to see how authentic it was. Also, you do get stupid character syndrome with a side order of plot continuity absence. For example, a cop phones a character and explains what is going on, and then in virtually the next scene doesn’t have time to explain to the same character what is going on when they speak face to face. Make no sense? Didn’t to me either.

What does work well in The Sleeper though are quite a few things though, and these help shift the balance of favorability in its favor. It does have the look and feel of an 80’s slasher flick; writer/director Justin Russell has done a terrific job of bottling the atmosphere of these flicks and pouring it into his movie. As well as this I really enjoyed the score by Gremlin, which in places reminded me of the great Goblin.

The Sleeper is an honest love letter to the slasher genre, granted it is not without its faults, and the love does show on the screen. It isn’t going to tax your brain, it certainly doesn’t push any boundaries, but when a film finishes and I find myself smiling at the screen I know I have had a good time. Either that or I have been on the funny juice.

I am quite sure that there will be those that loathe this movie, for one reason or another, and will merrily pan it to anyone that will listen. For myself all I can say is that The Sleeper did a great job of taking me back a couple or three decades to a simpler time when killers just killed people and didn’t feel the need to torture them in the process. It leaves you with questions unanswered and borrows liberally from other flicks, but by God I had fun watching it.

The Sleeper is available on DVD from Gamma Knife Films

No comments: