Have you ever watched a movie about a fairy tale and wondered, what would this be like if it was way more sinister? To be fair, fairy tales were originally much darker thanks to The Brothers Grimm; however, today we are so used to seeing Disney fairytales that have joyful music and happily-ever-afters and less fire and brimstone. Sure those are great, but I like my fairy tales to have a bit more meat on them and boy did I get more than I bargained for with Pearry Teo’s latest film, “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty.”
I would say out of all the films I’ve seen so far in 2016, this one may have surprised me the most. I wasn’t familiar with Teo’s earlier work so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but I can say without a doubt I have no regrets. “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” is probably one of the most beautiful, horrifying, and fantastic films that I have seen all year. It stars Ethan Peck (“Gossip Girl”), Natalie Hall (“True Blood”), India Eisley (Underworld: Awakening), Bruce Davison (X-Men), and Zack Ward (Resident Evil: Apocalypse). The story centers around Thomas Kaiser (Ethan Peck), a somewhat depressed and forlorn artist who keeps having vivid dreams of a woman, who he pens as Sleeping Beauty, and an unfamiliar mansion. When Thomas finds out that his Uncle has passed away, he learns that he has inherited an ancestral mansion, which turns out to be the one from his dreams. Having never known his Uncle nor about the mansion, Thomas comes to find out that he has inherited an ancient curse that has been in his family for generations. As he acclimates into his new role as “protector” of the house, he learns he must keep the evil demons residing there at bay and unravel the mystery of the home while trying to awaken Briar Rose (India Eisley) the beautiful girl from his dreams who is trapped in a terrifying underworld.
I know I said it before and I’ll say it again, I was so surprised with how fantastic this film was! It had everything that I was looking for, humor - Zack Ward had a brief cameo as Thomas Kasier’s friend and he was HILARIOUS and I wished that he would have been in the film more, horror - there are mannequin dolls that come alive and if that doesn’t sound frightening than I don’t know what does, demons - they like to hide under the sheets, mystery - who is Briar Rose, intrigue - how is Thomas Kaiser really connected with all of this, and an ending that leaves me wanting more. The best way to describe “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” is this ain’t your family friendly Disney version.
When it came to the acting, the one person that I was impressed with was the person with the least amount of screen time, Zack Ward. I was sold on him from the minute he came into view and I really wished his character has become part of the story more. As for Ethan Peck, I felt as though his character was a bit flat and I wish I could have seen him be more aggressive and less in turmoil. The lovely India Eisley was fantastic and believable as the trapped beauty in Thomas Kaiser’s dreams. She was able to suck me into her storyline and make me feel for her character’s distress. But what I really loved about “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” was the horror. Some of the creature effects were phenomenal and actually freaked me out on a much deeper level. I don’t like dolls so the fact that the demons manifested themselves inside mannequins made the whole movie that much more scary. However, my favorite part was the ending. Though it could have used some help in the CGI department it does something that I think is so rarely seen - it doesn’t give us a happy ending. I don’t want to give too much away but I really enjoy when films take that extra leap and remind us that not everything is happily ever after.
Overall, I really loved “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty.” It honestly creeped me out on a level that I wasn’t expecting and it was refreshing to see new up-and-coming actors and actresses as well as some of our favorites like Zack Ward and Bruce Davidson. Though there were definitely areas that could be improved, I was willing to look past them because I was so entranced with what was happening on the screen. Pearry Teo made the type of fairytale movie that I was looking for and I applaud him for that. If you are looking for a film that coincides more with the dark tales of The Brothers Grimm adventures, and less “I”m a Disney Princess look at me!” then “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” is the film for you.
“The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” hit theaters May 13, 2016 and is available on VOD and iTunes May 17, 2016.