Saturday, December 14, 2013

In short: The Sleeper (2012)

Student Amy (Brittanny Belland) would probably have reconsidered her decision to join a sorority if she had only known the sisters of Theta house would become the targets of one of those weird, nigh-indestructible killers (Jason Jay Crabtree), and she'd have to live up to the insanely high standards of Final-Girl-hood (everyone's favourite new-ish godhood, or so I've been told). But then we wouldn't have much of a movie.

Justin Russell's slasher homage/patchwork slasher movie (with particularly emphatic nods towards Black Christmas) is another film that demonstrates quite nicely how a film can totally lack in originality yet still be quite worthwhile if it only has the right spirit. The film parties very much like it were 1981 (in fact, the film does take place in 1981), at least as far as you can do that on an indie budget, not just hitting the well-known plot beats but hitting them with the relish and enthusiasm this sort of thing needs to survive. Irony might earn a film critical praise, but all too often, it won't warm my heart, and surely, filmmakers should concentrate on their central audience, that is to say, me.

While The Sleeper does a more than decent job of being a period piece - not so much a film which tries to take on the job of emulating an actual earlier era as the style and content of the films of that era -there are some typical "indie horror" weaknesses on display. Some of the acting of minor characters is a bit awkward, the gore's too abundant for the charming yet improbable way that it looks, and you wouldn't call its pacing sprightly, for example. However, Russell has an eye for the all-important moody shot and knows about the whys and wherefores of sleaze, so that The Sleeper's feel (to use the least precise word in any human language) is just right for what it attempts to be. Plus, there's a dance scene of glorious silliness, incompetent yet polite police, and many a thing to smile at, perhaps even with that much-loathed (by me) feeling known as nostalgia. What more could I ask of a film about a random killer slashing sorority sisters to death?

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