Friday, November 23, 2012

Sleep Disorder (2005)

Pack: Tomb of Terrors
Disc: 6

Subgenre(s): Ghosts, Hauntings

Year: 2005

Rated: R
Length: 88 minutes

Directors: Chris Penney, Brian Demski
Writer: Nate Fenemma
Starring: Gina Retan, Russ Fithen, Kathy Allen

Synopsis: Nate is a member of a ghost-hunting team making a documentary. After kicking some flowers over on a grave, he is plagued by nightmares. As his mental health suffers, he recounts his story to a psychiatrist.


Review: Coming slightly too late to cash-in on the success of the various "Ghosthunters" TV fads, Sleep Disorder may be wishful thinking on the part of anyone who wishes that something bad would happen to all those fakes. Everyone here demonstrates the same uncomfortably good behaviour, and their improvised reactions are just as precious and unrealistic.

As the story of one man's mental breakdown due to a vengeful spirit hounding him, Sleep Disorder isn't too bad at all. It could possibly have used a stronger lead, but Nate Fenemma isn't completely useless. He's no Ethan Hawke, but let's face it, Ethan Hawke isn't much good at this kind of thing either. The main problem, however, is like this year's Sinister in that the story doesn't have a lot of scares to react to. Both movies, although 7 years apart, are also notable for the absence of decent lighting.

There are some scenes where the lighting is so awful that it's impossible to see what's going on. If that isn't bad enough, the audio is extremely poor too so you can't even hear some of the dialogue properly over the top of the really atrocious music. Unfortunately, no subtitles are available on the Pendulum Pictures DVDs or I would have switched them on immediately.

Despite flashbacks, Sleep Disorder is quite linear as Nate Fenemma (who is also also the writer) has the final stages of his breakdown in front of his psychiatrist and tells her about how messed up his life has become. The acting on both sides isn't the most convincing in the world, but it's adequate given the situation and, of course, the budget.

Sleep Disorder isn't quite a mockumentary, but since the "actors" all use their real first names and seem to be improvising, the intention is obviously to be one. Some of it does indeed look like a typical amateur ghosthunters video complete with nothing at all going on so that aspect works.

When something does happen, the effects aren't fantastic. The look of the ghost is disturbing if you don't look at it too long, and there's some nice gore involved near the end, but there's nothing much here which you haven't seen before. There's even an obligatory ouija board scene which works until you realise that there must have been a big magnet under the table.

I don't know why anyone felt it was necessary to include the comic relief with the ghosthunters' cameraman doing undercover research among the Amish and eating a cherry pie. It doesn't add anything to the story and damages the more serious tone of what is going on before and after it.

The denouement reveals a huge cliché which also negates the frightening randomness of what has gone before, but it's better than all the video effects which precede it. They look like someone just got click happy with all the Adobe Premier effects and thought it was cool to add them all at once.

Sleep Disorder is easily the best horror film so far on disk 6 of "Tomb of Terrors", but that doesn't make it a good one. It's just a poor movie with even poorer competition. It's all very disappointing.

Most Memorable Moment(s): Kathy's "Buzz Off!" t-shirt.

Originality: Very original apart from the end.

Best Line(s): "He looks like Hell. Smells like it too."
Worst Line(s): "That Borgita, the lady in black, your great-grandfather hung her."

Best Effect(s): Nate's heart being pulled out.
Worst Effect(s): The doctor's gas mask with a human jawbone attached.

Goriness (out of 10): 2
Sexiness (out of 10): 0
Profanities (out of 10): 2

Hottest Actor/Actress: Kathy Allen

Picture Quality: Average but very dark
Audio Quality: Slightly below average

Rating (out of 10): 2

Trailer: None
IMDb or Wiki: None

Final Thoughts: Too ambitious and too dark.

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