Released 05/17/2016 Rated: (Not Rated)
I found the trailer on YouTube a little while back, and was like “Heck yeah, I want to see this!” Then it showed up on Netflix, which is the only way I’m able to see some of the movies whose trailers I find on the internet. Upon my first watch through, I liked it; however, the more I think on it, the more I find wrong with it, which sucks because this concept is really cool. They did certain things great, and other things really bad, but I’m still going to say it may be the best B-movie I’ve ever seen.
I loved the art style in this film. The deep blue in Briar Rose’s dress and crown contrasting against the paleness of their surroundings in Thomas’s dreams. The awesomeness that is her crown; just… wow. The giant nest in the middle of the forest draped in tool and deep blue petals and feathers. It’s all so fanciful and pretty, and a complete contrast to the horror throughout the rest of the film; we’re talking some Pan’s Labyrinth-level, f-ed-up shit. The Veiled Demon is something straight out of a nightmare, and I’m usually okay with this kind of stuff. All the freaky mannequins, and the multiple self-opening doors… If it was me, I’d be like “No, no, no, no, no, nope. Not happening.”
The script could have definitely used some more work, especially considering that it is the main method through which this story is told. The rule, which this film doesn’t follow, is “show, don’t tell.” For example: Thomas says in passing that he hates both the town and the house. Other than inheriting a rumored haunted house and having spent, I believe at this point, only one night there, during which he has a nightmare, this statement is not justified. You need to give the audience more time to feel it. If key elements of the story are going to be conveyed through dialogue, then the dialogue should not be so basic and unsupported. It sometimes felt as if these characters were talking in simple sentences.
One thing other reviewers have said is that all the characters make incredibly large leaps in logic, and they’re right. It’s ridiculous. After Thomas has a fit and has to get back to the house, Linda states that she thinks if Thomas stays more than a few days away from the property, he’ll die. (Sigh) I get that she is convinced something supernatural is going on with the house, but come on. At this point, it’s been twenty-four hours since Thomas inherited the house, the majority of those hours being spent in town looking through property records and tracking her blonde butt down. The whole flippin’ story only covers a few days; let’s scale that assumption back a bit. Twenty-four hours, a few hours, nightfall; any of that would have been believable.
Plot-wise, the story is pretty cool, but there are a number of ways they could have made it better. The first option would be to make it a bit longer, and fine-tune the pacing. This story takes place in the span of four to five days, and it goes by pretty quickly. Make more of a mystery out of it by making the viewer search for answers instead of just giving it to us. Like Linda’s note in the property records. I was waiting for the camera to focus on it so that I could read what it said and make a connection. Instead, Thomas automatically recognizes her handwriting, and goes to track her down. Really? He just magically knows it’s her and where to find her in a town that he’s never been in before? I didn’t even recognize her at first. I’m just sitting there going, “Who the hell is this??”
The second option [SPOILER ALERT (skip to returning text-color)] would be to essentially start at the end. The twist of the film is that Briar Rose is evil. Why not start there? Or, just continue the story. Thomas and friends get away, and then Rose has to hunt them down a bit. This is the coolest part of the story, and it’s wasted on only the last five minutes or so.
Now for my many questions and complaints. What exactly is the curse of sleeping beauty??? Is it that the male heir of the Kaiser bloodline becomes a host for the numerous demons? Or that Rose will use those demons to unleash the apocalypse? Either way, that would have been important information to pass from uncle to nephew!! Honestly, ANY information would have been important to pass from uncle to nephew! Good grief! “You must never enter the rooms below the basement.” WHY??!! If it’s so imperative, fuckin’ explain it! Was he hoping Thomas wouldn’t figure it out which would keep him safe?
What exactly is the set up here? Because it makes no sense. Rose is being kept in the secret room in the basement of Kaiser Gardens since… before property records were a thing. (So a long freakin’ time.) The Veiled Demon is one of thirteen Djinns tasked with keeping Rose asleep. First question: Where are the other twelve? They’re slacking. Second question: What exactly is the role of the Kaiser bloodline? Are they also supposed to be keeping her asleep? If that’s the case, and they’re the only ones who can awaken Rose, then why are they anywhere near her? That would have made a better story, too. Each male heir of this bloodline starts getting plagued by dreams of Rose and go mad trying to search for her throughout the ages until Thomas discovers she’s guarded by a demon in a secret room in this creepy house where multiple people have disappeared.
And what was the relationship between Clive Kaiser and the Veiled Demon? Were they just like “You stay downstairs, and I’ll stay upstairs, and never the two shall meet”? Clive Kaiser was a shut-in for a long time, so there had to be some sort of arrangement. “I’ll ignore the disappearances if you stop possessing the mannequins upstairs.” The Veiled Demon pretty much took an immediate dislike to Thomas, and there was no explanation given. Was it trying to scare him off? Did he realize that Thomas was the last heir (I’m assuming) and by killing him, it would ensure that Rose would never awaken?
They could have done better, but they could have also done a lot worse. Supposedly the directer wants to branch off this into a TV show, which, if done properly, would be cool. Based on all the reviews though, I don’t know how likely that is. I want to see more of India Eisley. The girl knows how to do a horror film.