CAPSULE: In a really different and creative horror film three worlds come together in an old mansion that seems to bring together our world with a world of demons and a third where the story of Sleeping Beauty is working itself out. A modern man inherits the mansion and the curse that goes along with it. The curse draws him into a Grimm’s fairy tale and a world of horror. Pearry Reginald Teo directs a script he co-wrote with Josh Nadler. This is a fantasy/horror film that is at least as original and audacious as any horror film I have seen this year. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
You may remember the story of the Grimms’ fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” if not from the Brothers Grimm than from the Disney animated cartoon adaptation of the story. (There are actually several other versions.) Princess Briar Rose pricks her finger on a spinning wheel spindle and falls into an apparently endless coma-like sleep. There she remains until rescued by a handsome prince who kisses her and awakens her back to life. THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY has (among other things) yet another pass at the story. But it is just a part of the horror existing here. Thomas Kaiser (played by Ethan Peck) inherits an old mansion that has been in his family for decades. But it is the home of a curse on the family that goes back something like nine centuries.
Under the titular curse, Thomas must keep at bay the demons who haunt the castle, first in his dreams and later in more corporeal form. And he must search for Briar Rose, the beauty he sees appearing asleep in his own dreams. Somehow he seems to be at the nexus of at least three worlds, one in the modern 21st century, another in the world of Grimms’ fairy tales, and another in the dark threatening world more grim than the grimmest of Brothers Grimms’ fairy tales. Well, fairy tales and horror have always had a close connection. The story starts a little slow, but soon shakes that off. One problem with the film is that there are characters talking in strange voices that are a little hard to understand. This complicates deciphering the end of the story.
One of the real heroes of the film is production designer Alessandro Marvelli who gives us an extremely spooky yet artistic house with statues and mannequins: things that are human or maybe just not quite. It just adds to a palpable chill. The fairy tale lands are presented almost poetically like scenes from picture books.
One thing that stands out to anyone educated in STEM fields: we have a computer whiz doing work on data found. He says his current software re-uses logarithms that were used for a previous project. Apparently nobody present knew a logarithm from an algorithm. Mixing a fairy tale with what is mostly a horror film is an audacious approach, but the script does not give the story time to flesh out the two fantasy worlds. Still, the film is a fresh idea in a genre where too many ideas are overused and stale. I rate THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
© 2016 by Mark R. Leeper
Originally appeared on: http://leepers.us/sleeping.htm
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