Plot: What’s it about?
It is said that criminals often return to the scene of their crimes, but would a murderer return to the same area after seventeen years? That seems to be the case, as a rash of killings mirror those done almost two decades ago, which left authorities baffled. Of course, someone connected with the original case would be very valuable, but the only one available is Moretti (Max Von Sydow) and he is retired from the force, with problems of his own. But when the child of one of the original spree’s victims extends his hand, Moretti regains his tact and takes to the streets, to put this killer away once and for all. The twisted murderer has become known as The Dwarf and in order to catch him, the two will need to solve his horrific puzzles, based on animal riddles. But after all these years and a bout of incurable insomnia, can even Moretti muster enough will to take this killer down, or will the deaths continue unabated?
As a horror movie fan, I look forward to new releases from the established directors, such as Dario Argento. His recent output has been spotty at best, but the chance is still there for greatness, so I always make sure to catch his latest offerings. With Sleepless, we’re taken on a suspense laden trek into not only horror directions, but also more traditional mystery directions, which works out well enough. This is as close to giallo as we’ve seen in a while, complete with ham handed turns from most of the cast members involved. It has some downsides and never rises above just good, but Sleepless is still worth a shot. Although not a classic, Sleepless is a decent enough movie that deserves a look, but Artisan has botched this release in all respects. As such, this is recommended as a rental to those interested, but fans with region free players should look abroad, as some nice import editions are available.
As one of horror’s true masters, Dario Argento has all of his films come under intense scrutiny, since fans wait for each of his next pictures. Even his most devoted fans have to admit Argento has been on a downward slope of late and while a couple movies were passable, he hasn’t been true to form in some time. Sleepless is a good movie with some great moments, but I don’t think this marks Argento’s return to peak form, at least not in total. Sleepless is more of a suspense thriller than horror movie, which Argento handles with ease and guides in his usual directions, with ample atmosphere and visual grace. So this is a step above most of his other recent work, but I would still like to see Argento get close to his best moments, like all horror fans, I am sure. Other films directed by Argento include The Stendhal Syndrome, Opera, Suspiria, Phenomena, Deep Red, and Four Flies on Grey Velvet.
Video: How does it look?
Sleepless is presented in a full frame transfer, which ruins the intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I am very confused with this decision, as Sleepless is a very visual film and it takes full advantage of the widescreen frame, which means this pan & scan drek is almost unwatchable. The technical side is fine, as the image is clean and shows no serious flaws, but come on, the lack of an anamorphic widescreen transfer blows this one dead in water. I mean, the damn trailer is in widescreen, so why not the main feature??
Audio: How does it sound?
A very solid, effective Dolby Digital 5.1 track is used here and lends itself quite well, no real complaints to be made. You shouldn’t expect a barrage of surround use or the like, but the audio is clean and well presented, to be sure. The dialogue is crisp at all times and never hard to understand, although the methods used sometimes seem off. This is because while some actors spoke English in production, others were simply dubbed over, but this is the intended outcome, so no reason for outrage in the least. This disc also houses a 2.0 surround option, but no subtitles of any kind, as per usual for Artisan.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains some talent files, as well as the film’s trailer.