Parasomnia (Blu-ray / DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Dylan Purcell, Patrick Kilpatrick, Jeffrey Combs, Cherilyn Wilson, Timothy Bottoms
Directed by William Malone
Distributed by E1 Entertainment
Parasomnia (par·a·som·ni·a) n.: "A primary sleep disorder in which the person's physiology or behaviors are affected by sleep, the sleep stage, or the transition from sleeping to waking.
Now that you know what this affliction is, it's a safe bet to say that this particular disorder is the perfect fodder for a horror film. William Malone's Parasomnia has been kicking around for a while now, but before we get into exactly how the film is, let's delve into a quick plot crunch.
While visiting his buddy in rehab, our hero Danny (Dylan Purcell) notices a cute girl asleep in another room at the hospital. Instantly smitten, Danny makes a few inquiries, only to find that said chica goes by the name of Laurie (Cherilyn Wilson) and she's suffering from an illness in which she finds herself asleep for the majority of her life. In the very next room is a psychopath who has carved out a path of destruction by putting people to sleep, an evil hypnotist by the name of Byron Volpe (Patrick Kilpatrick). Unbeknownst to Danny, or anyone else for that matter, our killer has formed a special bond with our sleeping beauty and as a result has become quite attached to her.
When Danny learns that Laurie is about to be transferred to another hospital where she is to be experimented on, he takes it upon himself to rescue (see: kidnap) our damsel in slumbering distress. The only problem? Neither of those scenarios sit well with Volpe -- a man so dangerous and vicious that he remains in the hospital chained up with a hood over his head so that no one can see his hypnotic eyes. Before you know it, the body count starts piling up in truly the most ingenious and startling of ways. Can anyone wake up from this living nightmare?
Parasomnia is a film that, given its subject matter, is absolutely rife with disturbing and surreal imagery, and Malone does one hell of a job bringing these night terrors to life. The only problem is that the surreal nature of the film ends up bleeding into the parts of the story that are rooted in reality, thus creating a semi-frustrating experience when the characters within the film start doing things that are questionable at best and no one has any real reaction to it. When dealing with a subject matter like this, it's hard to straddle the fence between what passes as part of a dream sequence and what passes in the real world. Sometimes it's just better to go full steam in either direction, leaving no gray area at all. As a result Parasomnia the movie ironically suffers from the same symptoms as the illness itself when moving between its sleeping to waking moments, meaning that at times it lacks concentration and focus.
If you have the tech, don't hesitate to go immediately to the Blu-ray package over the DVD despite them sharing the same special features. In 1080p the nightmarish set pieces maniacally on display in this flick simply pop off of the screen. Its standard definition cousin holds its own as well, but for my dime there's only one way to go and that's Blu.
The special features kick off with a solo commentary by Malone that's a real treat. There's nary any dead air, and to say that Malone's disposition while recording was enthusiastic is a bit of an understatement. Funny, informative, and never dull, this track is a winner. From there we get a nearly fifteen-minute long making-of featurette that covers a few weeks of the shoot with fellow journo and personality Staci Layne Wilson of TV Wire turning in some fine interview work. Add on three deleted scenes including an alternate opening, a still gallery, and a music video montage from Malone's Sixties based garage band The Plagues, and we're finished. A pretty good haul actually.
In the end Parasomnia fell a little short of my initial hopes for it, but it's still way better than the all too comfortable in the box spoon-fed drek we're used to having shoved down our throats. Check it out when you're looking for a spooky flick that's truly on the fringe.
3 out of 5
4 out of 5