Sleepover Nightmare (2005)

Starring Hayley Sales, Chad E. Rook, Kristine Cofsky, Richard Olak, Will Millar

Written & Directed by Boon Collins

Canadian Tax Shelter Theater proudly presents Sleepover Nightmare, a harrowing tale of young, good-looking, white kids randomly murdered by a homicidal maniac for no discernable reason other than they have the grave misfortune of residing in a place within walking distance of a homicidal maniac.

A bunch of twenty something types go to a secluded lakeside home to party only for a deranged killer to show up and begin killing them one at a time. Haven’t I seen this movie before? Haven’t we all seen this movie before? Well, I just watched it again, and the makers of Sleepover Nightmare expect you to do so as well.

And it’s not just the movie that reminds you of other similar films; even the stars of the film look like the stars of other movies and TV shows.

A Ryan Phillipe look-a-like brings his Carla Gugino look-a-like girlfriend to a party with a bunch of his snobby, rich kid friends. No sooner do they arrive, the Ryan Phillipe look-a-like sneaks off to hook up with the snotty Tatum O’Neal look-a-like whose house they’re partying at. While those two celebrity look-a-likes have a quickie in the shed, a Charlie Korsmo look-a-like makes a play for the Carla Gugino look-a-like.

Meanwhile, other partygoers frolic, water ski, jump on a trampoline, get drunk, and dance as only the whitest of white folks can. Other notable party guests include a guy stoned on ecstasy that looks like the eldest brother from “Malcolm in the Middle”, who pops up for several unfunny bits before getting hacked up with an outboard motor. Another stoner that looks like the kid brother from “Unhappily Ever After” meets his maker in the film’s highlight when he gets a beer can crushed into his forehead; I mean literally into his forehead. Plus, a few other random partygoers get killed off without anyone really noticing. Fortunately, as the day goes on, the party ends and everyone not already killed or established as a main character, goes home to safety.

Despite being entitled Sleepover Nightmare, not only does most of the killing occur in broad daylight, the party never even achieves sleepover status. This is sort of like titling your movie Slumber Party Nightmare and having almost all the killings occur in the afternoon before the actual slumber party has a chance to begin.

After the Ryan Phillipe look-a-like emerges from the tool shed of carnality to find his Carla Gugino look-a-like potential girlfriend getting a little too cozy in the swimming pool with the Charlie Korsmo look-a-like, his personality takes a turn for the worse as he suddenly becomes a verbally abusive, emotionally immature, manipulative, control freak of a prick, and yet the Carla Gugino look-a-like does not dump him immediately and get the hell out of there. In fact, it begins to seem as if the whole reason he brought her along was in hopes of getting her into a threesome with the Tatum O’Neal look-a-like. Hey, you think she’ll end dumping the jerk and getting together with the Charlie Korsmo look-a-like, who is still stuck at the house searching for his friend and ride home that got a can of beer fused into his skull.

Which of them will live? That should be obvious. Which of them will die? That should be even more obvious. Who among us will care? Not me.

And let’s not forget about the handyman that was clearly inspired by Groundskeeper Willie from “The Simpsons”. Will he save the day or will he also end up getting impaled with a metal pike, the killer’s murder weapon of choice.

Despite the simplistic nature of the film and the overall familiarity of the material, the biggest problem with Sleepover Nightmare is the killer himself. He has no real motivation for killing them other than being a homicidal maniac and he doesn’t even have a good reason for that. Looking like a member of the Black Crows and possessing a vacant stare that Tara Reid couldn’t achieve with all the alcohol in the world (That I cannot even recall the killer’s name should also tell you something), the killer is an escaped mental patient whose psychopathic tendencies are set off by the sight of young people getting frisky. Everything we know about this killer is revealed in a flashback sequence that could easily have been the basis for a prequel called Hot Rod Car Gathering Nightmare. He finds his girlfriend having sex with another guy in a car and snaps, killing the guy in an unintentionally comic over-the-top manner and then kidnapping his girlfriend only to flip their car over a bonfire, killing her. I can honestly say I have never seen a film, TV show, or whatnot where a car flipped over a bonfire in a manner usually seen in 80’s cop shows. Nonetheless, that’s all we get in terms of motivation. He was a young guy that flipped out after he caught his girlfriend cheating on him, thus leading to a life of murderous psychosis while looking like a white Jamaican pot grower.

The killer in Sleepover Nightmare also happens to be one of my least favorite kinds of movie slashers. Despite not having any supernatural powers, he seems to be imbued with superhuman strength and precognition. Where’s that blood dripping from? Oh, why it would be from the corpse he’s somehow managed to stash up about 20-feet up in the tree. Here, let’s see if you can actually smash that aluminum beer can into that guy’s skull. The survivors plan to run for the car and he’s already in it, ready to try and run them over. The survivors want to call for help on a cellular phone and no sooner do they declare their intentions to do so, they find the phone stuck to the wall with a knife through it. Someone says they need to get knives from the kitchen to fight him off; well, take one guess who has already swiped all the knives by the time they get to the kitchen. With precognitive powers like that, this killer should stop with the killing and go get himself some lottery tickets instead. They’re bound to payoff better than this movie did.

1 1/2 out of 5

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Jon Condit