Though not without a certain amount of visual flair, this low-budget indie spooker suffers from inconsistent tone, poor performances, and a time-warp plot that only gets more rather than less confusing as the film goes on.
Auto mechanic Nick Hanson (Eric Woster) and his young daughter Amy (Tiffany Ballenger) move into a house that has been unoccupied since 1956, when the Langley family was murdered by an assailant who disappeared mysteriously. Nick becomes attracted to social worker Lana Hawkins (Dedee Pfeiffer),
who has been assigned to investigate Amy's rebellious behavior. Nick starts to notice odd things about the house, like a horned human skull buried in the backyard. Alerted by the police pathologist (Robert Wuhl), detective Alex Stockwell (Frank Rhodes) discovers that the house has a history of
murder and suicide. Nick discovers that he can walk through a wall of the house, which takes him back to 1956. He returns to the present, beginning to doubt his sanity.
Nick's friend, Jake (Ramon Sheen), after finding himself repeatedly drawn to the house's basement, turns violent and is shot to death during a confrontation with the police. Nick begins to have impulses of irrational violence himself, so he takes Amy and heads to his home town in Montana. Obsessed
with the certainty that Nick will also turn murderous, Stockwell follows him. Nick attempts to kill himself, but is dissuaded by the spirit of a man (Stuart Whitman) who died saving his co-workers on a construction project in 1952. Back in Los Angeles, Stockwell lures Lana and Nick to the house
and attempts to kill them. During the scuffle, the house is set afire. Stockwell is shot by Amy. To escape the fire, Nick, Amy, and Lana go through the wall to 1956, where they remain. A newspaper runs a photograph of the Langley murderer; it is Stockwell.
SANDMAN opens with the news that writer-director-star Eric Woster was found dead of mysterious causes the day the film finished principal photography in 1992. The macabre irony of that fact aside, one wonders if there was secondary filming that was never completed, because so much of the film just
doesn't make any sense. Did Stockwell murder the Langleys, escape into the future and become a cop? If so, why? What about those horned skulls? What made the house so evil in the first place? And what (if anything) does the title mean? Aside from the weakness of the story, SANDMAN is further hurt
by too many irrelevant tangents, such as the entire trip to Montana, and by pointless appearances by a number of minor celebrities. Some strong camerawork and a few sequences of stop-motion animation aren't enough to make this worthwhile. (Graphic violence, adult situations, substance abuse,profanity.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: Though not without a certain amount of visual flair, this low-budget indie spooker suffers from inconsistent tone, poor performances, and a time-warp plot that only gets more rather than less confusing as the film goes on. Auto mechanic Nick Hanson (Eric… (more)