Director: William Malone
Writer: William Malone
Starring : Dylan Purcell, Cherilyn Wilson, Patrick Kilpatrick, Timothy Bottoms, Dov Tiefenbach, Jeffrey Combs, Sean Young, Jeff Doucette, Alison Brie
I was adding some movies for review on my Netflix instant service for the X-Box 360 last week when I came upon a movie that I had remembered seeing the trailer for a year or so ago. It was a new film by William Malone (House on Haunted Hill, Feardotcom, and Creature) that also had Jeffrey Combs in it, so that pretty much meant it was a must see for me. I’m afraid that I was a little disappointed over all by this film.
As we begin the film we are introduced to Madeline Volpe (Young, though you won’t know this until the credits) eating breakfast on the balcony of what I assume is her apartment, she receives a call on her cell phone, after answering it she begins to act very odd, almost like she is in a trance before she climbs up on the railing of the balcony and plummets to her death to the ground below. The camera by the way follows her all the way down, it does look a little fake but still it’s an interesting attempt.
We then see our hero of the film, Danny Sloan (Purcell) who is riding a bus, he has a something in a crumpled paper sack that he nervously fiddles with. He looks about at the few passengers on the bus with him but keeps his gaze mostly outside the window. We then see a flashback of a young girl, who we will later learn is Laura Baxter (Wilson), wandering an apartment hallway…she is splattered with blood and calls out for Danny. This whole opening sequence is very dreamlike and not until much later do we realize that we are seeing some of the end of the film at the beginning. Another flashback and we see a revolver being slipped into the paper sack that Danny is holding. We have another brief image of the main villain of the film, his eyes are overly large and unsettlingly black, we later learn this is convicted serial killer Bryon Volpe (Kilpatrick). Danny begins to think of how he became involved in this situation…
…and we find ourselves with Danny at his job in a record shop. He is busy trading facts with Phil (Philip Newby, who I sadly just now learned passed away in 2009) about the Bossmen. Phil apparently while working for a newspaper bumped into Pete Woodman and has the ability to get a rare single, something that Danny would desperately not only love to listen to but own. Danny and Phil are interrupted by the store’s manager, it seems Danny is late going to lunch…and as Danny lets us know, a lunch date with his girlfriend. Seems like he has missed too many lunch dates as when he returns to his apartment not only is she and her stuff gone but it looks like almost everything else he owned has been taken as well.
Danny decides to go and visit his best friend, Billy (Tiefenbach), who is at the hospital for drug rehab. Billy tells him not to sweat the girl but that before he leaves he should really go check out the guy they have in the psycho ward, this as we later learn is Byron Volpe and he is so dangerous that they keep his hands and head covered as well as keeping him stationary in the middle of the room with straps, so he is sort of dangling by his arms. As Danny watches him from the little window in the cell door, Byron who is constantly struggling at his bonds turns his head, he can sense he is being watched.
Danny leaves but notices a pretty girl on his way out, Laura, who looks to be healthy but asleep with a hospital room to herself. Dr. Corso (Bottoms) enters the room and finds Danny is just looking at her and eventually explains that she is suffering from Kleine-Levin syndrome, causing Laura to sleep practically all of her life away. Danny begins to visit her daily, talking to her about his life, even bringing music for her to listen to. One afternoon she awakens and reaches out to grasp his hand…just minutes before we are introduced to Dr. Bhlye who is going to remove Laura from the hospital to his private research center and use her in a series of experiments.
Danny does some research into Dr. Bhyle and finds that his experiments have been viewed to some as being unethical and it is revealed a patient of his died during treatments. Danny decides to take matters into his own hands and ends up ‘rescuing’ Laura, dressed as a Doctor he wheels her out (security at the hospital apparently is sub par) and ends up taking her to his apartment. Which causes Byron in his cell to become highly agitated, which is a very bad thing as we find out later. Byron is a hypnotist that is so powerful that he can effect someone just by making eye contact for a second or even by speaking to them on a phone, this is how he murdered his wife at the beginning of the film. He also has his psychic hooks set deeply in Laura as when she is asleep she is stalked in a nightmarish landscape of revolving mirrors with the killer projecting himself as a savior of sorts, all the while attempting to to bend her wholly to his will.
Danny takes care of Laura as best he can, she awakens for periods of time and he introduces her to the joys of the world like eating ice cream, etc. and he eventually realizes that he has fallen in love with her. Laura behaves incredibly childlike in her actions and with her inarticulate speech patterns. One afternoon Danny’s neighbor has her apartment broken into, a few items of clothing are missing, which he finds Laura wearing when he enters his apartment. Things aren’t looking to rosy for these two. Very soon we find that Laura has another problem, Byron has turned her into a somnambulist killer, a modern day Cesare! Laura’s kidnapping and a violent murder that occurs obviously do not go unnoticed by the police and Detective Garrett (Combs) and his partner Detective Conroy (Doucette) are on the case and before too long they are narrowing in on Danny.
Spoilers will be ended here, friends. But what causes Danny to be carrying a revolver at the beginning of the film? What about that flashback of Laura wandering the hall calling Danny’s name? Well, you obviously need to watch the movie to find out.
As I stated at the beginning of the review, when all is said and done I was let down by Parasomnia. Lots of things happen that are neither explained or characters do things that make no sense whatsoever, but to be fair it is not all bad. There is an especially awesome cameo by John Landis that really made me laugh and Alison Brie of Community fame appears as a violinist put into Byron’s endgame. I’m bestowing two and a half pumpkins out of five to William Malone’s latest horror offering which is sad because I think it has so many great ingredients but it just doesn’t gel when all is said and done.