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[Netflix Digest] – The Curse Of Sleeping Beauty & The Dead Room

 

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Posted October 23, 2016 by

 
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A review digest for films you can watch right now on Netflix!

The Curse Of Sleeping Beauty:

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Disney might own just about every property in the world but they don’t own the Brother’s Grimm tales outright. Anyone can make a Sleeping Beauty movie as long as it’s nothing like Disney’s. So, it’s not a bad idea to dip into the name recognition and build something new around these long-lived fairytales. I have no doubt that the creators of THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY thought this too and they wrote a script and shot a film and it’s on Netflix. Is it worth a watch?

The Curse of Sleeping Beauty centers around Thomas Kaiser, a painter who experiences a recurring dream with a sleeping woman named Briar Rose (India Eisley). Every time Thomas attempts to kiss the woman awake, he’s wakes up with an intense headache. It’s not soon after that Thomas’ dream starts to haunt his reality. Thomas inherits property from his uncle and upon visiting thhe property the connection to the sleeping woman, Briar Rose, deepens. A cryptic book that must be deciphered and a created known as The Veiled Demon round out the supernatural shenanigans of The Curse of Sleeping Beauty.

In the early 2000s, director Pearry Reginald Teo gained notoriety with a series of quirky horror films which earned him international awards. Riding that success, Teo became the first director born in Singapore to helm a Hollywood project, THE GENE GENERATION starring Bai Ling and Faye Dunaway. Teo also directed the first SyFy feature ever filmed in China called WITCHVILLE. Teo is gifted visually with a distinct style that reminds me a little of Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City). However, Teo, at least in The Curse of Sleeping Beauty, doesn’t seem concerned with telling a complete story, just a good and entertaining one. Nothing wrong with that, but keep it in mind before you venture into this dark, dreamy, and dull movie.

The Curse of Sleeping Beauty makes very little sense most of the time. Things happen because they need to happen and motivations for characters aren’t quite clear. It’s a very b-movie movie with a very pretty look to it all. India Eisley’s Briar Rose aka Sleeping Beauty, was a great choice for the role given her almost Disney animated look but she doesn’t do much but flash one of two looks: wide-eyed innocence or narrow- eyed evil. Ethan Peck looks confused throughout most of the movie which isn’t entirely out of character, but isn’t entirely captivating either. The strength of The Curse of Sleeping Beauty is Teo’s visuals which at times feel like a spinoff of PAN’S LABYRINTH, which on its own isn’t a bad thing.

Teo co-wrote The Curse of Sleeping Beauty with Josh Nadler and neither of them decided to include a satisfying ending. I won’t spoilt it, but it’s clear they had the idea that The Curse of Sleeping Beauty would be the first of a series. Based on critical and commercial reception, they might have made a slight misjudgment. Although, it’s not surprising for smaller budget films like this to receive funding for sequels. If Teo gets to make a sequel, I just hope he wakes up to the idea of given the story as much thought as the visuals.

Ratings:

Direction – 3
Writing – 2
Performance – 2
Sound & Music – 2
Cinematography 3 – Editing 2
Visual Effects – 2.5

 

The Dead Room:

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I have no qualms about admitting that I’m a bit of a movie snob. When I see a film is produced by Hollywood I expect it to be pretty but mediocre. Hollywood has the polish but lacks substance most of the time. Although some might be eye-rolling right now, I don’t mean substance like every movie has to be a dense, Oscar-worthy masterpiece. But most Hollywood movies are made in a sort of creative factory line where any passion from the original creative team is mostly lost. So, when I see a movie from Korea, Spain, or New Zealand I expect to see something fairly fresh. THE DEAD ROOM (2016) is a horror film from New Zealand which greatly disappoints.

The Dead Room follows a team of paranormal investigators who are tasked with inspecting an old farmhouse that’s thought to be haunted. We can fill out the rest of the movie together. There’s the customary watching the equipment needle move, doors and windows flying open for no reason, and girl being dragged away from the camera by her feet. The three characters in the film are just as uncreative. Early on, team psychic Holly Matthews (Lauren Petersen) is tormented by a spirit leaving the other two characters to take up the necessary roles of guy who wants to leave (Liam played by Jed Trophy) and guy who wants to stay (Scott, played by Jeffrey Thomas). Of course, no one leaves and wackiness ensues. And even while the chance to run right out the front is always present, no one ever takes it until it’s too late.

New Zealand has produced some great, quirky films, many in the horror genre. In 1992 was Peter Jackson’s DEAD ALIVE, 2006 was BLACK SHEEP, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS in 2014, and in 2015 was DEATHGASM. This is the first film I’ve watched from Kiwi-land that feels wildly uninspired. Director Jason Stutter decided to go with a non-scary horror film for nearly the entire length of the movie. It reminds me of recent successful horror movies like Paranormal Activity in which nothing happens for so long that it makes the audience so grateful when something does happen that the film is considered good. If that’s your sort of thing then The Dead Room should go onto your watch list.

Just like THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY, the other film I reviewed in this installment of the Netflix Digest on Film Debate, The Dead Room has a wholly unsatisfying ending. The Dead Room is really more about whether or not the viewer will make it out alive or die in their room from boredom.

Ratings:

Direction 2
Writing 1
Performance 2
Sound & Music 2
Cinematography 2
Editing 2
Visual Effects 1

 

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Ruben R. Diaz
@RMartian
Freelance Contributor

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