Sunday, January 16, 2011

Parasomnia - 3/5

William Malone struck some seriously awesome chords with his "Masters Of Horror" episode "The Fair-Haired Child". It was slick and modern in all the good ways. So when his latest feature film, his first in a long time, hit DVD it was worth looking into. "Parasomnia", written, directed, and financed by Malone himself, presents us with the same style that his "MoH" episode had (as with most of his newer films) and, despite its low budget, gives us a few intriguing ideas to play with.

Daniel (Purcell) has floated through his life looking for something with meaning. While visiting his friend in a local drug-rehab wing of the hospital, he stumbles across two very unusual things. A beautiful young woman (Wilson) who suffers form 'parasomnia' that has kept her in a sleeping state for most of her life and a hooded serial killer named Volpe who supposedly possesses hypnotic abilities so strong he can make a person kill for him with just a stare or suggestion. When Dan becomes obsessed with his 'sleeping beauty' he kidnaps her from the hospital to prevent them from testing on her. What he discovers though is far more frightening then his new wanted status. This girl is somehow linked with Volpe through her dreams and this psycho has some very dark plans for her.

"Parasomnia" is one of those films that I desperately wanted to love. It's quirky. It's original. It has so many great ideas built into its plot. This film has a great sub-plotted romance story (as awkward as it is since she's a kidnap victim and all) to balance its oddities. It also has a dark humor that Malone really utilizes nicely. His directing is nightmarish, as always, and really focuses on the dark tones of color and odd angels for his shots. It works most of the time for this movie. In these aspects, "Parasomnia" is an indie horror cult classic in the making.

On its down side, the budget hurts this film immensely. One can tell from its rather hit or miss casting (the hero Dan is a miss but having Jeffrey Combs as a sarcastic cop was brilliance) and its rather limited special effects that Malone was battling money issues the entire time. In a way, this film has a special charm to its low budget quality that many fans will love, but it does hinder the presentation of the film overall.

"Parasomnia" is a great find for those willing to look for it and it works with what it has well. Malone can be a little overwhelming with his quirky style at times and it throws the balance of the film off a bit, the the film's originality and charm work overtime to overcome these flaws. Not a great film, it still needed a bit more work, but a surprising little indie release that earns quite a bit of credit where its needed.

BONUS RANT: (Spoiler) From the odd dreams that are experienced by Dan and the films ending, are we to assume that they two star crossed lovers met as children and it was this meeting that inspired him to do what he did? The story never really clarified this aspect of its unraveling and it continued to bother me well after it was finished. Was it a dream or was it a memory? 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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