This probably goes without saying, but I watch a lot of movies. Like most avid movie watchers, I’m pretty accustomed to suspending disbelief and letting my imagination run free, as many of the films I watch are of genres that tend to lean toward the fantastical. I can usually let it go when things don’t always make total sense, especially when the story is dealing with extremely fictional content, but some films challenge perception a little more than others. THE SANDMAN, a new film directed by Peter Sullivan, happens to be one of those films that really tests your imagination, as it has a few holes that are up to the mind to fill in or be ignored.
Let me backpedal a little and say that although it may not initially seem like it, I actually rather enjoyed this film because the concept was fun and I was entertained throughout. The concept is simple: a little girl, Madison, has a special “gift”. She’s got kind of a Carrie vibe going on where she can move and control things with her mind, but she’s also got one other little secret, she sort of controls this Sandman monster who appears when she’s upset and starts killing whoever’s convenient. Sometimes he shows up on his own, sometimes it’s like she’s summoning him. Sometimes she seems to know when he’s going to show up, sometimes she’s terrified and surprised to see him. Recognize any of those holes I may have been referring to earlier? So although the film as a whole was fun and entertaining, I remained slightly distracted by these little inconsistencies. The Sandman seems to show up most often when Madison experiences heightened emotions like fear and anger, but when he appears out of her anger and starts wreaking horrifying havoc around her, she doesn’t seem fearful of him at all. Other times, Madison is obviously afraid of him and is surprised by his sudden appearance. The Sandman doesn’t seem to follow any specific set of rules, and you kind of just have to be okay with that or it’ll drive you crazy.
Inconsistencies aside, there are a few praiseworthy things I’d like to point out. The monster design of the Sandman was wicked. He was very creepy and visually interesting, but I wish we saw less of him. That’s right, less. I find that monsters tend to be much more effective the less they are seen. That which is unknown or unseen is always the most terrifying because our imaginations are infinitely more capable of creating more horrible, limitless imagery than what we’ll ever witness on a screen. Think about this: you’re lying in bed at night in complete darkness. Your eyes are straining and you think you see something stir in the corner. Chances are it’s the cat or dog, or perhaps it was simply a shadow, but your brain will tell you it’s your worst nightmare. The first time we see the Sandman, it’s like that. He’s shrouded in darkness and you can barely make out a figure looming in the background and it’s terrifying! Unfortunately, the Sandman reveals himself in all his practical glory pretty soon after that and while he is way cool to look at (go practical effects!), I would have loved to work on making him out in my imagination a little longer before the big reveal.
It’s not perfect, and I have my complaints, but with a swift runtime of a 90 minutes, THE SANDMAN is a fun, fast paced ride that makes for a quick and easy monster flick. The film stars Shae Smolik, Haylie Duff, and Tobin Bell (that’s right people, Jigsaw himself), and will be arriving on the SyFy channel Saturday, October 15th.