For the initiated, this descendent of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has its share of solid scares. Still, Freddy Krueger fans probably won't need their nightlights as this fright flick's initial promise recedes, only to be replaced by conventional storytelling that can't sustain the
verisimilitude of the "Sandman" monster lore.
Despite reassurances from his parents, seven-year-old Griffin (Vincent Berry) finds that his recurrent nightmare has come to life in the form of a homicidal madman known as the Sandman (Michael Harris). The Sandman murders Griffin's mom and dad in cold blood. In the nick of time, police led by
Detective Bronson Worth (William Lucking) rescue the lad and arrest the six-time serial slayer who specializes in family-elimination.
17 years later, Griffin's luck changes when he gets a free-lance writing assignment to interview gangleader Dog Sanchez (Peter Mark Vasquez) on the eve of the Sandman's execution. Beaten since childhood by an alcoholic father who sewed his lips shut to muffle his screams, the serial killer strikes
a supernatural bargain with a voodoo-master named Preacher (Michael D. Roberts) who offers him the chance at a second life, with the bonus of three methods of destruction and the ability to transform himself into sand. Although the matter-shifting demon tosses Griffin's roommate, Kenny (A.I
Glassman), off a roof and buries his new pal, Dana (Kathleen McMartin), in her bed, skeptical authorities led by Detective Rolands (Ken Foree) suspect Griffin's culpability. Aided by childhood savior Bronson, Griffin pinpoints Preacher's whereabouts at a refuse plant, but Griffin and his
girlfriend, Megan (Kathryn Morris), flee as the Satanic desert storm crushes Bronson to death. Incarcerated as a murder suspect but sprung by Megan, Griffin infiltrates the black magic headquarters, where Preacher reveals Sandman must kill Griffin because he's his brother. (To fulfill his hellish
destiny, the madman wiped out innocent families in pursuit of his adopted-out sibling.) After firing up Sandman as he chases him and Megan through air ducts, Griffin confronts his brother, who impales him with an arm turned to glass by the heat. Vengefully trapping him in a furnace, Megan
conflagrates the otherworldly monster to ash. In a coda, Preacher searches for a SLEEPSTALKER souvenir.
Perhaps it would be impossible for SLEEPSTALKER to live up to its eerie precursory sequence in which a chronically fearful child wakes up to discover his folks slaughtered by the very creature whose existence they denied. Marred by low-budget sets and some ham-fisted acting (especially by Foree),
SLEEPSTALKER simultaneously demonstrates its director's cinematic finesse and frustration at being unable to transform a sow's ear screenplay. Although the Sandman himself is a welcome entry into the contemporary horror hall of fame, the film repeats itself to the point of babbling and emerges as
a routine slasher pic in which everyone the hero even shakes hands with seems to wind up dead. Even the dark-edged finale in which the likable protagonist succumbs to supernatural fraticide can't overcome the script's slide into mediocrity. Best enjoyed as a special effects show (the horror movie
as laserium), SLEEPSTALKER rewards viewers with SFX legerdemain and the spine-tingling partnership of spectral Sandman and apotheosizing Preacher who jointly threaten to make REM sleep a thing of the past. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: For the initiated, this descendent of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has its share of solid scares. Still, Freddy Krueger fans probably won't need their nightlights as this fright flick's initial promise recedes, only to be replaced by conventional storytelling t… (more)