Tuesday, February 14, 2012

wide awake club.

The Sleeper (2012).
Dir: Justin Russell.
Cast: Brittany Belland, Luke Frost, Paul Moon, Tiffany Arnold, Beverly Kristy, Jessica Cameron, Riana Ballo, Ali Ferda, Jenna Fournier, Elizabeth Lane and Jason Jay Crabtree.

It's 1981 (allegedly, tho' some of the fashions and body art say otherwise) and the girls of Alpha Gamma Theta sorority house are organising a pledge party.

And being British I have absolutely no idea what this means, apart from what I've seen in Bob Clarks 1974 shocker Black Christmas which, if I'm honest seems to be the directors sole point of reference too.

Anyway back to the plot where the strangely gerbil-faced, felt pen browed college newbie Amy (Belland, snigger, looking for the world like a hook-handed child's photofit picture of Melissa Joan Hart) is desperate to become a Theta sister, her punky 'n' spunky best friend Ava (Ferda, who thanks to the lighting and make-up folk, goes from being an almost Barbara Steele-like beauty to something unnameable between scenes which frankly can be a wee bit off-putting if you get my drift) however thinks such things are a bit rubbish and enjoys gently taking the piss out of her pal.

"He did WHAT in his cup?"
 Being best buds tho' Ava soon realises how much this means to Amy and offers to give her moral support at the sorority house 'getting to know you' bash.

Which is kinda sweet I guess.

Well it would be if a potato headed mad mentalist hadn't decided to choose that very same night to begin terrorising the house with a series of frankly bizarro (and thanks to the sound mix unintelligible) phone calls regarding the girls sleeping habits and the like.

Oh and how he's going to murder them.

To death.

Shite in mah....well shite everywhere if I'm honest.

So begins a night (well a few days) of total bloody mayhem coupled with some atrocious sound, a wee spot of line dancing, a bout of clumsily edited murders and a couple of cases of cringe-inducing cardboard acting that would make a cereal box proud.

Welcome to Fright(ful) Night.

"Yeah!!!!!!!!!! Rat fans!!!!" The CGI costs for those eyebrows musta blown the budget. And your dad.

Unfortunately coming across more simple minded than simply plotted, The Sleeper tries bravely to resurrect the 80's slasher movie genre for a modern audience with it's pseudo-Goblin soundtrack, (hopefully) stilted performances and threadbare production values but unfortunately falls at the first hurdle.

The direction.

Kudos to director/producer/writer/stuntman/cinematographer/teaboy/snow wrangler/magician/sound editor/film editor Justin Russell for believing in his project so much but it's painfully obvious due to the complete lack of suspense on show that directing isn't really his forte.

And neither is editing if the bodged murder scenes are owt to go by.

And thanks to a script full of shaky logic and glaring inconsistencies he should stay away from writing too.

Being kind tho' I wont mention the atrocious sound mix (no idea who did this), the bizarre day to night and back again goofs and the fact that an eighties based character (stand up Riana Ballo as Sexy swim-star. Stacy) sports noughties tattoos.

Pop some make-up on it or shoot her from slightly higher up, you can still see her tits.

A pair of breasts yesterday.

For those of us old enough to remember the eighties it's this lack of proper research that really lets it down, it might have a slight sheen of the era about it but things like the fashions, haircuts and eyebrows let it down.

In saying that, credit where it's due so fair play for the fantastic disco dancing sequence, choreographed by the directors missis I assume from the amount of screentime given to the un-named lead dancer.

Quite possibly the greatest bit of the movie as well as the best dance number I've ever seen in an 80's slasher homage.

Which would be OK if we were watching Footloose I guess but not if we were watching Toolbox Murders if you get what I'm saying.

STOP! Hammer (to the face) time!

It's not all bad tho' with the likes of Luke Frost's performance as Detective Clive James being a stand out, as was the aforementioned Ali Ferda, whose burgeoning friendship with sweet hearted sorority girl Laura (Fournier) is a joy to watch, hopefully the pair will team up again soon.

Oiled and naked in my basement would be great but in another movie would do I guess.

It's a pity then that the fate of these two characters is (again) fudged by bad editing and budgetary restraints.

If I'm sounding harsh it's only because I'm still reeling from how great Donner Pass was and from how much I wanted to love this too.

Maybe next time, if he gets that extra tenner and promises to share the work load out a bit more, Russell might just deliver the goods.

And there's enough on show here to get vaguely excited at that thought.

Tho' not as excited as the thought of Ali Ferda and Jenna Fournier appearing in a remake of Naked Killer.

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