Slumber Review - This Groggy Sleep Paralysis Thriller Is Less Nightmare, More Lullaby - Dread Central
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Slumber Review – This Groggy Sleep Paralysis Thriller Is Less Nightmare, More Lullaby



Starring Maggie Q, Sylvester McCoy, Kristen Bush, Sam Troughton, Vincent Andriano, Honor Kneafsey, Lucas Bon

Directed by Jonathan Hopkins

Sleep paralysis is an understatedly traumatic, very real medical phenomenon that plagues far more resting bodies than you might expect. Effects include feeling a weight pressing down on your chest, physical incapacitation and descriptions of a blurry figure standing near, over or around bedframes. Primo horror fodder, right? Movies like Rodney Ascher’s The Nightmare and Phillip Guzman’s Dead Awake range from documentary to fabricated thriller, vying to transition personal “victim” accounts into on-screen curses. Art imitating life, hopeful to entertain and educate in one devastating swoop.

The same goes for Jonathan Hopkins’ Slumber, 2017’s latest addition to the “sleep paralysis” stockpile – emerging from the middle of this already struggling pack, I may add. At times stunningly shot and invasively realized, yet unfulfilling when it comes to the promise of any such “horror” at all. We still don’t have that seminal classic of bedridden torture, but for more forgiving (patient? easier-to-tease?) audiences? Hopkins’ experiment may not be the drowsiest affair.

Maggie Q stars as sleep pattern specialist Alice Arnolds. Ever since her brother passed at a young age due to an accidental sleepwalking mishap, Alice likens unconscious terrors to scientific facts. That’s until the Morgan family enters Whittingham Sleep Center with a sinister case of restless nights that no doctor can diagnose – for good reason. Could myths and legends about a demonic dream-attacker known as the “Night Hag” be real? Alice first refuses to accept any association to satanic forces, but the more time she spends with Daniel Morgan (Lucas Bond), the less sense reality makes.

I mean, yeah – no spoilers. This is a genre film, so of course Alice is facing off against some “Nocnitsa” legend the institute’s skittish janitor vaguely warns her about. Many films have before revealed this creature to be a blend between Left 4 Dead’s “Witch” and Slenderman, which isn’t far off when Hopkins *finally* decides to reveal his beast way too far into the third act. Save the best mediocre for last?

Sans one looming background statue stance in a quick opening shot, Slumber opts to portray nightly takeovers mostly with a seeping blackness that spills from all sides of the lens to cover our screens – not a reverse glimpse. Night Hag POV? A different concept, but one that becomes desperately repetitive as we stare at a petrified child’s face for the tenth time instead of an actual monster. The clouding darkness a cop-out, never to visually suffocate like a psychological toxin.

Cinematographer Polly Morgan works landscapes and scenery to tighten some situational slack, whether it be a lingering hold on the entrance of a gutted greenhouse or pensive framing of soon-to-be victims. There’s an unfortunate production preconception that pops into your head upon hearing the word “indie,” but Slumber does right to fight such stereotypes. There’s everything nightmare-worthy about a stretched-out hallway with minimal illumination, and distant camera positioning does everything to capitalize on expected set-pieces. You know the overhead nocturnal views and editing darts towards open bedroom doors that await. It helps to know that Hopkins does too, and his vision hopes to capture the most artistic take of each subgenre necessity – not a saving grace alone, but a definite light that shines favorably down an undefined path.

Refocusing on the Night Hag herself, method and backstory seem to service circumstance more than sleep paralysis. A demon driven by an appetite for Daniel’s soul, able to control his entire family as long as they remain asleep. Translation? Mrs. Sandman can Freddy Krueger and hop dream to dream while also puppeting close-proximity snoozers. Kind of lessens the sting of the paralysis itself, scenes drawn away from Daniel’s frozen body to check on what little Emily (Honor Kneafsey) is chopping up with garden shears or – wait, it gets worse during the finale? A very Freddy Vs. Jason rescue attempt? Not to besmirch the slasher crossover one iota, but Slumber leans so heavily into the creature aspects even though bedroom invasions are depicted in ways to hide the Hag at all costs. Almost as if the film remains at war with itself.

That’s not to say the Morgan family doesn’t suffer some unsightly torments – a father cradling air (not his dead baby), mom recklessly blending midnight smoothies. Fear their uncontrollable sleepwalking and unconscious acts of defiance. Yet, now take a movie like Echoes or Dead Awake or – outside the subgenre – the Insidious franchise. Perspective is everything, and when covering sleep paralysis, no viewpoint is more horrific than that of a rigor-mortis-kissed subject unable to even flinch a pinky while some mangled form approaches from afar. Us – the camera – seeing through doomed eyes. Fixated on what we fear most, unable to gaze away. This is the biggest missed opportunity of Hopkins, with a spotlight elsewhere on larger households and psychological investigations. So desperately I yearned to feel the very dehumanizing paranoia Daniel felt himself, but alas, that is not the movie Slumber concludes to be.

Performances may get lost in the overall cues Hopkins triggers, but not forgotten. Maggie Q given a second chance by projecting her own desire to save on Daniel’s family. Honor Kneafsey a tiger-onesied sister who is damn menacing when walking around with sharp objects while in a hypnotic daze – unpredictable in action. Sam Troughton and Kristen Bush the desperate parents who also find themselves in danger of bashing through walls and chopping appendages. Casting is tight where it matters – Sylvester McCoy the wackadoo genre stereotype by way of a rambling old retiree who lives with the memory of the Night Hag’s stalk – just tethered to the film’s larger, convoluted ideas.

In the end, Slumber is an almost-satisfying bedtime horror story about a malevolent affliction – one I’ve suffered, albeit on only a few *thankfully* brief occasions. But that feeling, particularly my arms being held down with nothing I can do, never materializes in the sense of fear during Jonathan Hopkin’s lullaby. Scenes seem to be working harder than they should for a scare given the stakes at play, which is a strange, distracting misstep. Again, you may find enough in a film that stashes all its terrorizing eggs in one last-minute basket – but more hardcore genre lovers should remain hesitant. Not exactly an “AVOID” warning, just be prepared for something more derivative (shaky-cam dream sequences, creatures behind perspectives) than promised.

  • Slumber


Slumber is a tug-of-war between boogeyman haunter and psychological destroyer, neither side dealing anything more than serviceable nighttime blows. The horror is there, it’s just oddly ignored – next time just flip the camera?

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Suspiria U.K. Blu-ray Review – Argento’s Masterpiece In Stunning 4K Clarity



Starring Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Udo Kier

Directed by Dario Argento

Distributed by CultFilms

Although the 40th anniversary of Dario Argento’s seminal giallo masterpiece Suspiria passed only last year, plans for that milestone had been underway for years. Unbeknownst to all but the most diehard fans, restorative work was ongoing for a long while, most notably under the masterful eye of Synapse’s Don May, Jr., leading up to a grand unveiling of the all-new 4K picture that had been perfected and tweaked endlessly. That version of the film toured across the country at select events, giving fans an opportunity to watch Argento’s colorful classic with a picture more vibrant and full of pop than ever before. Even the original English 4.0 audio track from 1977 was restored to its former glory. Between all of the loving care Suspiria received, as well as the wealth of Argento reissues on Blu-ray, this is a good time to be a fan of his early works.

There are, however, actually two 4K restorations that were done for Suspiria; one, by Don May Jr., while the other was performed by TLEFilms FRPS in Germany. This is the same master used for home video release in Europe and Australia. Fans have viewed and picked apart both transfers, though you would have to be one of the ultra-purists to enter that debate and engage anyone willing to discredit either image. The job done by Synapse is extraordinary and the same can also be said for the work done by TLEFilms. This release by CultFilms features the TLEFilms restoration, making it either an attractive alternative to Synapse’s (currently OOP) steelbook release or a nice supplement for fans who wish to own both 4K versions.

Suspiria has been viewed and reviewed and discussed an endless amount of times and there are no undiscussed criticisms or introspective viewpoints I am likely to offer that haven’t been made before. Argento has long been an example of style over substance and Suspiria is his most emblematic work in that regard. American Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives in Germany at a prestigious all-girls dance academy late one rainy night. Girls have mysteriously vanished from the compound in recent days, with more to follow. Suzy is coldly greeted and frequently uncomfortable during her stay. Eventually she uncovers a plot involving witchcraft and murder. The story is less thrilling than the ride, which is a kaleidoscope of horror. Argento uses every trick in his bag, from inventive camera movement to ingenious framing, and the use of colored filters to evoke a mood so many have attempted to replicate.

The real interest many will have with this review is in regard to the picture quality. As I said before, the 2.35:1 1080p image provided by TFEFilms’ exhaustive restoration work is nothing short of astounding. This looks like a film that might have been made last year, never mind over four decades ago. The image is razor sharp, exceedingly clear and completely free of blemishes, dirt, debris, scratches, fluctuations, and jitter. The picture could not appear more stable, with the contrast rock solid and coloration a thing of beauty. Primaries leap off the screen with vibrancy even longtime fans will admit is a shocking surprise. Watching this picture in action is a true treat. Detailing is exquisite, revealing every little nuance in Argento’s framing. Simply put, this is a flawless image that ranks among the upper echelon of reference-quality Blu-ray transfers.

Similarly, the audio is no slouch with options available in both English and Italian, each receiving both a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound track and an LPCM 2.0 option. The multi-channel track is the clear winner here, proving a deep, immersive audible experience that completely envelops the viewer in both Argento’s world and Goblin’s phenomenal score. Seriously, the soundtrack for Suspiria has never been as unsettling and overpowering as it is here, filling every corner of your home theater room with a palpable sense of dread. Subtitles are, of course, available in English.

Please note: this release is locked to Region B, meaning you must have a compatible player to watch the disc.

This release also features different bonus material from the Synapse release, with an emphasis here placed on the restoration process. Completists may want to add this disc to their collection because it not only offers up a different-but-equal a/v presentation but also a new collection of bonus features.

An audio commentary is included, provided by film critics/authors Alan Jones and Kim Newman.

“The Restoration Process” is a nearly one-hour piece that examines every step along the way in bringing Suspiria back to such stunning life. Technical talk abounds here; definitely for fans who want a glimpse into the nerdier side of making movies look pretty again.

“Argento Presents His Suspiria” is a new interview with the director, who surprisingly doesn’t seem sick to death of talking about this film yet.

“Fear at 400 Degrees: The Cine-Excess of Suspiria” offers up critical appraisal of the film’s visual style, featuring interviews with critics, theorists, and others involved in making the film.

“Suspiria Perspectives” offers up more in-depth discussion of the film, covering both this feature and similar Italian pictures made during that era.

A DVD copy of the feature is also included. The two-disc set sits within a slick, shiny embossed slipcover with the film’s logo in metallic silver. It’s kinda sexy.

Special Features:

  • The Restoration Process
  • Argento Presents His Suspiria
  • Fear at 400 Degrees: The Cine-Excess of Suspiria
  • Suspiria Perspectives
  • Audio Commentary
  • Suspiria
  • Special Features


Looking better than ever before, Cult Films’ release of this giallo classic is welcomed as both a more affordable (current) alternative to the U.S. release and as a complement to it, since this edition has a slight variation in picture quality and a selection of different and insightful bonus features.

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Victor Crowley Blu-ray Review – Killer Special Features Make This a Must-Own



Starring Parry Shen, Kane Hodder, Laura Ortiz, Dave Sheridan, Felissa Rose, and Tiffany Shepis

Directed by Adam Green

Distributed by Dark Sky Films

Like many of you horror fans out there, I was surprised as hell when Adam Green announced that there was not only going to be the fourth entry in his famed Hatchet series but that the movie had already been filmed and was going to be screening across the country.

Of course, I wanted to get to one of those screenings as soon as possible, but unfortunately, there were no events in my neck of the woods here in Gainesville, Fl., and so I had to bide my time and await the Blu-ray.

Then a few days ago, the Blu-ray for Victor Crowley landed on my doorstep and I jumped right into watching the film. Short story, I loved it. But we’ll get into all of that more in-depth below. For now, let’s do a quick rundown on the film for those two or three horror fans out there who aren’t familiar with the film and its premise.

Victor Crowley is the fourth entry in the Hatchet series, a franchise that follows the tale of a deformed man that accidentally met the wrong end of his father’s hatchet long ago and now roams the Louisiana swamp each night as a “Repeater”, aka a ghost that doesn’t know it is dead and thus cannot be killed. Ever. Well, maybe not ever. After all, Victor was supposedly killed at the end of Hatchet III by a combination of Danielle Harris, his father’s ashes, and a grenade launcher. Dead to rights, right? Not so much.

In this fourth entry/reboot, a group of indie horror filmmakers, lead by the adorable Katie Booth, accidentally resurrect Crowley just as the original trilogy’s lone survivor (Parry Shen) is visiting the swamp one final time in the name of cold hard cash. Long story short, Shen’s plane crashes with his agent (Felissa Rose), his ex-wife (Krystal Joy Brown), and her film crew in tow. Some survive the initial crash, some don’t. As you can imagine, the lucky ones died first.

Victor Crowley is a true return to form for Adam Green, who sat out of the director’s chair on the third film. As always, Green doesn’t shy away from the over-the-top comedy and gore the franchise is well known for. The blood rages and the sight-gags hit fast and unexpectedly. And, speaking of the sight-gags, there’s evidently a shot in this Blu-ray version of the film that was cut from the “Unrated” version released on VOD. The shot is one I won’t spoil here, but for the sake of viewing Green’s initial vision alone, the Blu-ray for Victor Crowley is really the only way to own this film. Don’t get me wrong, there are (many) more reasons to shell out the cash for this Blu-ray, but I’ll get into those soon.

Back to the film itself, what makes this fourth entry in the series one of the very best Hatchet films (if not THE best) is Adam Green’s honesty. Not only does he conquer a few demons with the ex-wife subplot, but he gives us a truly tragic moment via Tiffany Shepis’ character that had me in stunned silence. Her death is not an easy kill to pull off in a notoriously over-the-top slasher series, but it earned mucho respect from this guy.

Basically, if you loved the original trilogy, you will love this one as well. If you mildly enjoyed the other films, this one will surely make you a fan. Slow clap, Adam Green.

Special Features:

Let it be known that I’m a massive fan of fly-on-the-wall filmmaking documentaries. Like many of you out there, I find film production to be utterly fascinating and thus have grown a little tired of the typical making-of featurettes we get on Blu-rays. You know the ones. The director talks about his vision for the film, the cast say how much fun they had on-set with the other actors and crew, and we get cutaways to people dancing and trying to kiss the behind-the-scenes camera – all usually set to upbeat music.

While I’ll take what I can get, these kinds of behind-the-scenes features have grown to be little more than tiresome and superficial. But no worries here my friends as Adam Green has pulled out all the BS and given us a full-length, 90-minute behind-the-scenes feature called “Fly on the Wall” that shows it how it really is on the set.

Highlights include new Hatchet D.P. Jan-Michael Losada, who took over for Will Barratt this time around, who is little less than a f*cking hilarious rockstar, a front row seat to the making of Felissa Rose’s death scene, a creepy-cool train ghost story prank by Green, a clever impromptu song via Krystal Joy Brown (Sabrina), and a fun bit towards the end where Green and the SFX crew create the “gore inserts” in (basically) the backyard after filming. Good times all around.

The documentary then ends with the Facebook Live video of Adam Green announcing Victor Crowley‘s surprise premiere at that Hatchet 10th Anniversary screening. A great way to end a killer making-of documentary making his disc a must-own for this special feature alone.

But wait, it gets better. On top of the film itself and the above-mentioned “Fly on the Wall” documentary, the disc features an extensive interview with Adam Green called “Raising the Dead… Again.” This interview is basically Green going over the same speech he gave to the crowd at the surprise unveiling shown at the end of the “Fly on the Wall” doc, but that said, it’s great to hear Green tells his inspiring story to us directly.

So while this feature treads water all of us have been through below (especially fans of Green’s podcast The Movie Crypt), Green is always so charming and brutally honest that we never get tired of him telling us the truth about the ins-and-outs of crafting horror films in this day and age. Again, good stuff.

Additionally, the disc also boasts two audio commentaries, one with Adam Green and actors Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz, and Dave Sheridan, and another “technical” commentary with Adam Green, cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada, editor Matt Latham, and make-up effects artist Robert Pendergraft.

Add in the film’s teaser and trailer, and Victor Crowley is a must-own on Blu-ray.


Special features:

  • Audio commentary with writer/director Adam Green and actors Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz, and Dave Sheridan
  • Audio commentary with writer/director Adam Green, cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada, editor Matt Latham, and make-up effects artist Robert Pendergraft
  • Raising the Dead… Again – Extensive interview with writer/director Adam Green
  • Behind the Scenes – Hour-long making-of featurette
  • Trailer
  • Victor Crowley
  • Special Features


One of the best, if not THE best, entries in the Hatchet series, with special features that are in-depth and a blast (and considering all other versions of the film have been castrated for content), this Blu-ray is really the only way to own Adam Green’s Victor Crowley.


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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 152 – Cloverfield Paradox & The Ritual



Last week Netflix shocked the world by not only releasing a new trailer for Cloverfield Paradox during the Superbowl, but announcing the film would be available to stream right after the game. In a move no one saw coming, Netflix shook the film industry to it’s very core. A few days later, Netflix quietly released horror festival darling: The Ritual.

Hold on to your Higgs Boson, because this week we’ve got a double header for ya, and we’re not talking about that “world’s largest gummy worm” in your mom’s nightstand. Why was one film marketed during the biggest sporting event of the year, and why was one quietly snuck in like a pinky in your pooper? Tune in a find out!

Meet me at the waterfront after the social for the Who Goes There Podcast episode 152!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.


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