Director: Pearry Teo
89 minutes (15) 2016
Widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Lionsgate DVD Region 2
Review by Christopher Geary
Inspired by the Grimm brothers’ Little Briar Rose story, and based upon a comic-book version of that fairy-tale, this low-budget movie is directed by Singapore-born auteur Pearry Reginald Teo, maker of sci-fi actioner The Gene Generation (2007), uncanny horror Necromentia (2009), fantasy adventure Witchville (2010), and bloody thriller Dracula: The Dark Prince (2013). Each of the filmmaker’s works successfully creates a unique world for the genre screen, and his latest performs the same cinematic trick.
Haunted by weirdly romantic dreams, lonesome artist Thomas Kaiser (Ethan Peck, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) is drawn out of his lethargy when he inherits a decaying mansion. Complete with secret passages and sealed cellars, the ancestral home of his broken family hides a captured girl, in suspended animation, whose revival depends upon a kiss from Thomas. So far, so ordinary, and in-line with all traditional fables of enchanted slumber, but The Curse Of Sleeping Beauty eventually becomes full-blown gothic horror with a techno contemporary appeal.
Teo composes images of suffocating obsession, exploring apparently romantic destiny that starts off with strobe-lit encounters in dusty rooms where lurking demons scuttle around, and spooky mannequins deliver jittery menace from over the uncanny valley. Doll-faced India Eisley (star of futuristic action movie Kite, 2014) makes a wonderful, yet eerie Briar Rose - ultimately the unwilling host for satanic and catastrophic forces. As the gun-toting cleric, genre veteran Bruce Davison brings exposition, and defiance of supernatural powers. He banishes djinns, and leads our doomed Prince Charming towards a final confrontation with the spell of evil.
The twist-ending of a diabolical turnaround into apocalyptic misfortune upsets many narrative conventions, and yet seems fitting after numerous hints and foreshadowing of netherworld apparitions. Thomas’ recurring dreams are obviously too seductive for comfort, and so the climactic volte-face, and human-domain foreclosure, is expected. All happy ever afters are hereby cancelled.