Monday, June 19, 2017

The Curse of Sleeping Beauty (2016)

There are a lot of movie based on some sort of source material.  Comics have been popular for a while.  Many movies are based on books.  Then, there’s the occasional remake or sequel.  Occasionally, someone tries to do a loose interpretation of something.  Sometimes it’s called a reimagining of a classic tale.  Sometimes, it’s presented as what really happened or is viewed through a different filter.

We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty, even if only peripherally.  A woman has a curse put on her by a witch wherein she falls asleep.  The spell can only be broken by a kiss from that special someone.  The Curse of Sleeping Beauty takes that basic premise and puts it in modern times.

The movie begins with Thomas Kaiser having a nightmare.  He’s had this recurring nightmare all of his adult life.  In it, he approaches a sleeping woman.  When he goes in to kiss her, the nightmare intensifies and he wakes up.   He’s been to several psychiatrists with no luck.

Out of nowhere, he inherits a property from his unknown uncle Clive.  All he gets is the deed and a letter with a vague warning about not exploring the basement.  If anything is sealed, leave it that way.  Oh, and the family line is cursed.  Good luck!

He leaves his apartment to size the place up with the hope of selling the property.  When he gets there, he finds the place basically in ruins.  He’s met by a real-estate agent named Linda.  She seems a little too interested in the property.  All he wants is to be rid of it.  When he spends his first night in Kaiser Gardens, the nightmare changes.  The woman is now awake and talking to Thomas.  He realizes that her physical body is somewhere on the property and they can communicate through dreams.  He has it within his power to break the curse that’s keeping her asleep.

This is where it gets strange.  It turns out that the curse goes back to The Crusades.  The curse seems to bind one male member of the Kaiser family to the body, although it’s not made clear to what end.  Is he protecting her?  Is he protecting the world from her?  Either way, if he’s away from the property for more than a few days, Thomas gets sick.

Similarly, it’s not clear why someone has to be bound to the property.  Even if charged with a task, it would make sense to let the person roam, even if it’s to have a job or to meet a potential mate.  There’s no mention of Thomas getting any money with the estate.  You’d think that there’d be an endowment or at least a cushion that would allow Thomas to get a job if he didn’t have one.  (Which he doesn’t.)  Clive was even said to be a shut-in.  There’s no mention of how he afforded the property taxes, if there were any.

My biggest question is why Thomas isn’t given more than the vaguest of instructions by Clive.  Instead, Thomas gets a cryptic book written in Aramaic.  If something is important enough to have been kept up since The Crusades, you’d think there’d be easy instructions, like exactly what is expected of Thomas.

Sleeping Beauty leads Thomas to believe that he is to wake her.  Thomas never questions this.  He has the help of Linda and a paranormal expert, Richard.  Neither one of them asks why, if it’s so easy to wake her up, no one has done it in a thousand years.  It’s up to Linda’s ex-boyfriend to decode the book and realize what Sleeping Beauty really is.

The movie is kind of like a Hallmark horror story in that the entire plot is one cliché after another.  A man inherits a cursed property.  He knows nothing, but is assisted by someone that knows a good deal of information on the property.  All of the important information is kept from them until it’s either too late or almost too late.  In the end, you realize that the main characters are idiots that could have prevented all of the troubles in the movie.

I think part of the problem is that this may have been a backdoor pilot.  The ending is left unresolved.   Where most similar horror stories would have most or all of the main characters die, this one leaves them all alive.  It would make more sense if a sequel or TV series were planned to follow the movie.  IMDb doesn’t seem to have any movie connections, but there is a Fangora interview that would indicate a TV series, assuming that they can find the backing.

One explanation I’d like is how Sleeping Beauty got to Kaiser Gardens.  If the curse did start during The Crusades, we’d assume that it was cast in Europe, Asia or the Middle East.  The main location of the story would appear to be in the United States, so she would have been moved at some point.  A lot of my issues look like questions that would be explained in later canon.

The biggest question I have is using a family line to carry the curse.  It seems odd to me that all of the affected family members had the same last name.  Are you saying that it has to be direct male lineage?  It can’t pass from grandfather to grandson?  What happens if the line ends?  For that matter, how is Thomas the only one left?  Thomas said that his mother didn’t want Thomas to have anything to do with his father’s side, but that doesn’t mean that some distant cousin wouldn’t come knocking on the door to warn Thomas.  That aspect of the story was very unclear.

On a technical level, the film looks good.  Picture quality is what you’d expect of a major production.  It’s just that it lacks other things you’d expect, like a better story.  It was a little too thin for me, even knowing that there might be a TV series coming eventually.  This is one of those cases where a binary recommendation is hard to give.  It’s not bad enough that I’d steer people away from it per se, but it’s not really good enough that I’d want to endorse it  This has the look of an origin story that got made after the TV series had been running for a few seasons..  I’d say that if the TV series does get made, watching the movie would probably be worth it.

No comments :