Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#1,528. Beyond the Wall of Sleep (2006)

Directed By: Barrett J. Leigh, Thom Maurer

Starring: George Peroulas, Fountain Yount, Gregory Fawcett

Tag line: "I wake with bad things"

Trivia: This movie was based on a 1919 magazine article

After the impressive The Call of Cthulhu, I wanted to check out another indie movie inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, which led me to Beyond the Wall of Sleep, a 2006 motion picture co-directed by Barrett J. Leigh and Thom Maurer. Unfortunately, this film was a major disappointment in every way imaginable.

Based on Lovecraft’s 1919 short story of the same name, Beyond the Wall of Sleep introduces us to Edward Eischel (Fountain Yount), a medical intern at the Ulster County Psychiatric Asylum who’s been conducting experiments designed to tap the full potential of the human brain. His curiosity is piqued by the arrival of a new patient; a backwoods murderer from the Catskill Mountains named Joe Slaader (William Sanderson). His simplistic nature aside, Joe has a deformity on his back that fascinates Eischel, who longs to make Slaader his next test subject. But when the arrogant Dr. Wardlow (Kurt Hargen) interferes with his work, Eischel is forced to take extreme measures to see his project through.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep fails on just about every level, including the acting (which ranges from inept to over-the-top), the sound (whenever a character in the background speaks, his or her dialogue is inaudible), the special effects (when they’re shown in close-up, the “growths” on Joe Slaader’s back look as if they’ve been taped on), and even basic storytelling (there are entire sequences that have nothing whatsoever to do with the main story, and were created solely to pad out the running time). Perhaps most frustrating of all is the film’s visual style; early on, we’re treated to sequences featuring multiple images and rapid-fire editing, designed to give the viewer the impression they’ve wandered into a nightmare world of insanity. Far from sending a shiver up my spine, these erratic scenes only managed to give me a headache.

Clearly, with Beyond the Wall of Sleep, directors Leigh and Maurer thought they were making an art house movie, but in the end, all they’d managed to produce was a jumbled, incoherent, and flat-out dull motion picture.

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