Dead Sleep


The Dead Sleep.  And So Will You, While Watching This Movie

Main Cast: Chris Armstrong, Sara Foret

Director: Vivki de May

It’s probably not a good sign that I just finished watching this movie, literally, minutes ago, and I’ve already forgotten the main character’s name. Luckily IMDB is a thing and I can see his name was Paul Wells.

Paul is in trouble with his boss, a young punk who inherited a multi-million dollar business from his dead father, for stealing $1.7 million over the course of a few years to help pay for some medical procedures Paul’s daughter Melanie needed. Paul is going to get the money back to him (he only spent .2 of that 1.7), but the strangest things have been occurring lately and it’s got him on edge.

He’s been having strange visions, losing time, and seeing backwards messages. There’s a ringing in his ear. And there are strange, blurry figures chasing him down the street.

His friend Del is trying to help him through whatever’s going on, but Paul is panicky and won’t listen. Instead he just wants to get home to his wife and daughter where everything is safe.

Only, that’s not possible anymore, Del explains. “You died five years ago.”

The Dead Sleep is one part Ghost, one part Jacob’s Ladder, and one part low budget shlock. The picture quality looks cheap (obviously filmed on video) and the sound is all over the place, so bad the overdubs stand out like twenty sore thumbs. The acting from the main cast, Chris Armstrong as Paul, Sarah Foret as Melanie, Robert Fente as Del, and Tatiana Armstrong as Paul’s wife Claire, is stiff and emotionless in most places, drab and unconvincing in others. The Dead Sleep just wasn’t good.

Everything about it screamed first time director and checking out Vicki de May’s credits, I can see that’s exactly right. She has a slew of producer credits, but only one as director, and it’s too bad it had to be this one.

The story plays out like it’s supposed to be a mystery, the big reveal being that Paul is really dead, but it don’t take Stevie Wonder to see that twist coming a mile away. So instead of being shocked by it when it came, I was just glad they finally spit it out so we could get on with the real point to the movie, what Paul needs to do in order to move on. And from there the plot just got all tangled up in itself until I finally gave in and just went along for the ride until it was over.

The movie was written by James A. McLean, whose only credit before was a short film called The Devil’s Mercy. If The Dead Sleep is any indication, it’s probably best that he hasn’t written anything else since.

This movie had a few bright spots, but overall it just felt like no one was paying attention. There’s a scene toward the beginning where Paul goes up to Melanie’s room after dinner. She’s lying in bed reading for school. He asks if she’s going to bed soon and she says that she is. There’s a window over her shoulder, through which the sun is shining bright as anything. Well, I thought, maybe it’s the end of summer, when it stays light pretty late, but it’s really like 9:00 and she’s at a west-facing window.

Paul goes downstairs to the living room and is talking to his wife who happens to be sitting near a clock. The time is 12:10. That girl isn’t getting ready for bed, it’s NOON. Paul gets a call from Del whom he goes to meet at a bar and, again, sunshiny day outside. Afterward, Paul hops on a bus to get home. Sun still shining.

At first I didn’t know if maybe this was on purpose, like since it’s obvious Paul is actually dead, is time standing still for him and in whatever delusion he’s living is it always the same time of day? But then I realized there are differences in the story, and some parts are only memories. The previously mentioned scene is one of them. So Paul wasn’t dead in those scenes, they took place while he was still alive. So it wasn’t any grand idea on the part of the director, they just didn’t catch it. And that’s lazy.

Unfortunately it’s also how I felt about most of this movie. I got the feeling de May was trying to take this script, which was already a mess, and turn it into this time-bending, mind-tripping deep picture, but I also got the feeling she had little idea just how best to go about achieving that goal. So in the end we don’t get a big, heavy, moving film that makes us think the deep thoughts. Instead we get a rip-off of other movies that never quite melds together into one coherent whole.

I can’t offer legal or medical advice and I’d never expect you to trust me when it comes to investing, but I’ve seen enough movies to feel very confident in saying this: Take my advice and skip this movie. It’s not so bad I’d avoid it like the plague, but it’s not good and you’re better served finding a different movie, almost ANY movie will do.

–C. Dennis Moore

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