The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parasomnia (2008)

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When I decided to reboot the DTVC Tumblr page over the summer, one of the first things I noticed on this go around was that my Jeffrey Combs pics were getting a lot of attention. A big part of that was the reblogs I was getting from fuckyeahjeffreycombs, which was really cool and turned more people onto the main site. It also made me realize, we don't have a lot of Jeffrey Combs to go to, something we needed to fix, so the first thing I did was fill up my Instant queue with Combs flicks, this being, one and when Netflix let me know they were taking it down last week, I figured I'd make it happen. Because Tumblr wanted it: more Jeffrey Combs.

Parasomnia is about a girl with a problem that makes her sleep a lot-- not like wants to stay in bed all day like clinical depression, but actually sleeping. At the same time, the evil Patrick Kilpatrick is her neighbor at the mental hospital. He's a terror double threat: expert hypnotist and serial killer. He uses his skills to get the parasomniac to kill people, something that's made easier when some weirdo dude who makes silly faces breaks her out of the mental hospital. Now she's killing people, the kid wants to kill Kilpatrick to get her to stop, and police detective Jeffrey Combs wants to bring in the kid, because he thinks he's the killer. We got ourselves a mess here.

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I have a rule about movies: anything over 88 minutes is borrowed time. I have another rule about movies: don't let the plot get in the way of the action, especially if that plot is boring the hell out of me. This one broke the second of those two first, meaning by the time they broke the first, they were already in trouble. Seriously, the movie starts with Sean Young jumping off a building, and then grinds to a halt for the next 45 minutes, sticking us with this kid who constantly makes that face you're looking at in that picture above. What is that? It's like he's a teenager working at a grocery store whose boss just told him someone dropped a jar of mayonnaise in aisle 7, and he needed to clean it up. I want to look at that for 103 minutes? Combs was great, Kilpatrick was chilling, there were some fantastic visuals and nice kills, but overall, this was about 43 minutes of material stretched out to 1 hour 43. The ending was also really weird, way weirder than it needed to be, and way weirder than a movie with this little good will could get away with. Ultimately, this is a no go.

The ultimate flaw, was that it spent way too much time on this I don't know what between the sleeping girl who sometimes woke up and the kid. And, of course, the kid making that face. Again, what is that? The worst part was, when the girl was awake, she was either developmentally delayed, intelligent, completely self-unaware, or extremely innovative, depending on the convenience of the writing. There was no consistency in her character. One moment she's wiping ice cream all over her face, the next she's stealing a cheerleader's outfit out of another apartment. And then, through it all, we have that kid's face, which isn't helping anything. It's just another case of a movie romanticizing a relationship with a woman that isn't a complete person, and it comes off as trite as all the other ones. Why are film makers so afraid of women? And why do they need to spend 45 minutes of our time working out these issues?

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What this needed desperately was a higher Combs quotient. The whole movie should've been him. Get rid of the kid, have Combs have the affair with the sleeping girl. He would've brought more to the table than just that face. He could've made it creepier-- something that works in a horror movie, no?--, yet maybe more endearing too. Instead he was a police detective, and while he was great, he didn't have that many scenes until we hit the last 30 minutes or so. Still, any Combs is better than no Combs, and he helped make this film bearable.

Another person who made this bearable was Patrick Kilpatrick as the baddie. Absolutely frightening presence, exactly what you'd want in a horror flick. Unfortunately, the movie spends too much time setting things up, keeping Kilpatrick's character chained up in a mental ward. That's the problem, more than half the movie is set up. I get the issue that a low budget flick might not have the cash to have Combs and Kilpatrick on set for that many shooting days, so they can't be in the movie that much, but you mitigate that by not making so much movie. There are very few films that can't be told in 88 minutes or less, and even fewer that can get away with nothing happening for good chunks while their talent sits on the bench.

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Even the imagery at the end of the film was hurt by the film's propensity to drag things out. I'm seeing shots cut in here and there of some really striking stuff, only to have the kid, with that look on his face, almost getting away, then stupidly looking into Kilpatrick's eyes so he can be hypnotized again, then coming out of it, then repeating the process. It was like the people making the movie were condemned to death going in; that when the movie was done so were they, so they were afraid to finish it. That's the only explanation for why this was dragged out so long. Not to mention that weird weird weird postscript. That was so weird and unnecessary. Just end the misery.

Funny thing is, I saw a review for this on Dread Central, and the guy enjoyed it, so go figure. For me, they spent too much time on a trite relationship with the kid who made that face and the sleeping girl, and by the time they kicked into any kind of horror goodness, it was too late, and even then, they had a tendency to drag out things that could've been done quickly. Overall, it didn't work for me.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0922547/

9 comments:

  1. Wow Combs and Kilpatrick are both looking more creepy the older they get. Might check this out - thought Malone's House on Haunted Hill was pretty good until the silly ending.

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  2. Totally agree with your review. This was just ok. It was nice to see Patrick Kilpatrick, Jeffrey Combs, and Alison Brie, but the movie wasn't that good.

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  3. You may enjoy it Jack, it just didn't work for me. Combs and Kilpatrick though definitely made this happen. Also, Kilpatrick looks worse because he had these dark contacts in-- though he makes an excellent baddie. I need to go back and tag him at some point, because we've seen him quite a bit on here.

    And I'm glad you mentioned Alison Brie from Community, who has a very small part, because I forgot to. I've been meaning to check that show out, I just haven't gotten around to it.

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  4. I actually enjoyed this one a lot, I thought it was a good straight to dvd flick, nothing major, but not bad either. I liked the nightmarish sequences, especially everything having to do with the dream world.

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  5. Definitely looking forward to your opinion on Community. It is a great show!

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  6. Yeah Ty, I definitely need to check that out. As an aside, I did check out the Sklaboro Country podcast. It's hilarious.

    I agree with you Francisco that the visuals were great, but the movie wasn't just the visuals. There's this other aspect to the story where we have this same trite construct involving men unable to communicate with real women, so they romanticize these relationships with women like the somnambulist here, who needs to be taken care of and can't think for herself. It's unhealthy, and, quite frankly, really boring and uninteresting to watch. Again, if you make the lead Jeffrey Combs, he probably changes the dynamic for me because he's capable of adding some nuance and depth, but they didn't do that, and ultimately we were left with the same old crap mixed with some really nice visuals.

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  7. I'm happy you enjoy the podcast!

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  8. So come on, don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel about that kids face. lol.

    I've never been a fan of Malone, especially after the awful Creature. He has the ability and the budget, but never seems to be able to put together a good film. And for a few seconds I seriously thought I was looking at a picture of Alan Arkin! I can't believe that's Combs!! Wow! And I agree, more Combs please!!

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  9. Yeah, the Sklar Brothers are great. I need to see them in concert sometime.

    Seriously, look at that kids face. It's like the face the kid at some shop in the mall gives you when you ask him a simple question. Like he's working at the fitting room, and you say "I've decided I'm not going to by these, should I just set them over here?" and he just gives you that face and says "uhhh..."

    Funny thing about Creature, I reviewed it way early on in my blogging days, and had mis-titled it "The Creature", and only now, with your referencing it, did I notice.

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