Review: The Sleeper (2011)
Review by Uncouth
The gap between “professional” Hollywood productions and DIY indie flicks has become more and more narrow, which makes being a cinephile today very exciting. The only way to make a film in decades previous was to either be a) very rich or b) connected in the Hollywood system. The more widespread use of 16mm and then super 16mm made it easier for filmmakers to make cinema outside the system, but for most folks the price was still too steep and the level of quality was apparent once the print got blown up to 35mm for projection. During the 80s, shooting on video became more financially feasible but the stigma of shooting on the format was even more severe than shooting on super 16mm, almost ensuring no one would ever look at it seriously. Recently, however, with higher quality video cameras that are capable of shooting in 24 frames per second, the line between video and film has begun to blur.
DSLR shooting is now all the rage with filmic low depth of field (read: blurry backgrounds), cheap cameras and the use of the ever popular RED cameras; it’s becoming more and more difficult to recognize what’s shot on film and what’s shot on video. We are seeing an explosion of indie flicks from all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives, which is great. The horror genre has benefited greatly from these technological innovations and The Sleeper is a good example of this.
The Sleeper is a retro slasher about a group of sorority house girls being hunted by a maniac wielding a hammer. That about sums it up. Simple, to the point. This isn’t “deep” filmmaking. And, damn it, that’s just fine with me.
Let me begin by saying that The Sleeper looks gorgeous. The colors are vivid, the blacks rich, and the depth-of-field shots are amazing. Honestly, The Sleeper looks much better than 90% of the films it pays homage to. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it. I just wanted to drink it all in. The plot is simple enough and doesn’t take long to get going. The gore is great, though I wouldn’t call it a gore flick, just a satisfyingly gory slasher flick. The acting is patchy in parts, but weren’t all old-school slashers filled with mediocre acting? C’mon, it’s hard to knock The Sleeper when its predecessors can’t claim to be any better. The music is also great; performed by a band called Gremlin, it suits the mood of the movie and was memorable to boot. Kinda like John Carpenter meets Goblin. Very cool, and very fitting. Also cool is the weapon of choice. I’ve always felt the hammer was a woefully underused weapon in horror flicks. It’s a tool meant to smash things: how can you get any cooler than that?
For slasher fans, The Sleeper is a must. It’s a fun ride, and visually pleasing to boot. It also has a killer cameo by none other than Joe Bob Briggs. Damn, I miss seeing that dude on MonsterVision. With all the nostalgia floating around these days, why can’t that dude get a show again? Hell, Elvira has been given a new run, so why not Iron Joe Bob? In the special features on the disc, he even does a drive-in total which brought back good memories for this creature feature lover. The DVD also features a huge ‘making of’ featurette and director’s commentary. A damn fine package for a damn fine flick.