Parasomnia: An Independent Horror Film Directed by William Malone
This was the official website for Parasomnia, an independent horror film directed by William Malone and staring Jeffrey Combs, Timothy Bottoms and Dylan Purcell. Initially released in 2008, it eventually made its way to Disc / streaming in 2010.
Content is from the site's archived pages as well as outside reviews.
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Romance
Screenplay: William Malone
Producer: Veronica Hart
Runtime: 103 minutes
Studio: E1 Entertainment
Initial release: October 17, 2008
Director: William Malone
Initial DVD release: February 19, 2009 (Japan)
On Disc/Streaming: Jul 13, 2010
Parasomnia Movie Trailer 1
Unable to wake due to a rare sleep disorder, Laura Baxter resides in a psychiatric hospital. When a manipulative serial killer begins to take a sinister interest in her, student Danny Sloan attempts to save the sleeping beauty from falling into the murderer's clutches.
Parasomnia Movie Trailer 2
TOMATOMETER AUDIENCE SCORE 28%
In this sinister twist on the Sleeping Beauty legend, an innocent beauty suffering from a rare sleep disorder falls victim to a menacing mesmerist and serial killer who draws on his vast arsenal of hypnotic weaponry to take control of her fragile psyche. Art student Danny Sloan (Dylan Purcell) has fallen deeply in love with the Laura Baxter (Cherilyn Rae Wilson), a lovely young woman afflicted with a medical condition brought on by a tragic childhood accident. Laura suffers from Parasomnia, a condition that causes her to literally sleep her life away. She only awakens on rare occasions, and even then, she doesn't stay conscious for long. Unfortunately, murderous psychopath Byron Volpe (Patrick Kilpatrick) has also fallen in love with Laura, and he'll do everything within his power to claim her as his own. Byron may be locked away in a high security hospital, but no restraints in the world are strong enough to keep him from the woman of his dreams. Now, as Byron uses his powers to take possession of unsuspecting hosts in the real world and command a frightening array of ominous creatures in the realm of the unconscious, Danny must face unimaginable horrors to defeat the malevolent killer and save the woman he loves.
***½ Christopher K
February 8, 2011
i hated this movie, i also loved it, it can go from brilliant to moronic in about 5 seconds flat but usually redeems itself a couple scenes later.
*** Matt R
January 16, 2011
William Malone struck some seriously awesome chords with his "Masters Of Horror" episode "The Fair-Haired Child". It was slick and modern in all the good ways. So when his latest feature film, his first in a long time, hit DVD it was worth looking into. "Parasomnia", written, directed, and financed by Malone himself, presents us with the same style that his "MoH" episode had (as with most of his newer films) and, despite its low budget, gives us a few intriguing ideas to play with.
Daniel (Purcell) has floated through his life looking for something with meaning. While visiting his friend in a local drug-rehab wing of the hospital, he stumbles across two very unusual things. A beautiful young woman (Wilson) who suffers form 'parasomnia' that has kept her in a sleeping state for most of her life and a hooded serial killer named Volpe who supposedly possesses hypnotic abilities so strong he can make a person kill for him with just a stare or suggestion. When Dan becomes obsessed with his 'sleeping beauty' he kidnaps her from the hospital to prevent them from testing on her. What he discovers though is far more frightening then his new wanted status. This girl is somehow linked with Volpe through her dreams and this psycho has some very dark plans for her. There was one concept involving his cute puppy dog that shared his apartment that was quite creepy. He had just bought what he thought was a special therapeutic dog bed (it was advertised online as a "magical luxury dog bed for therapy") but it was way more than he bargained for. Whenever the pup was asleep on this bed, it would morph into a very scary creature - scary but harmless. Just the transformation of this dog was enough to creep me out, and I'm not sure why the director didn't do more with it. I think it was meant to be a dream influenced reality, but sometimes what's real and fantasy are hard to distinguish.
"Parasomnia" is one of those films that I desperately wanted to love. It's quirky. It's original. It has so many great ideas built into its plot. This film has a great sub-plotted romance story (as awkward as it is since she's a kidnap victim and all) to balance its oddities. It also has a dark humor that Malone really utilizes nicely. His directing is nightmarish, as always, and really focuses on the dark tones of color and odd angels for his shots. It works most of the time for this movie. In these aspects, "Parasomnia" is an indie horror cult classic in the making.
On its down side, the budget hurts this film immensely. One can tell from its rather hit or miss casting (the hero Dan is a miss but having Jeffrey Combs as a sarcastic cop was brilliance) and its rather limited special effects that Malone was battling money issues the entire time. In a way, this film has a special charm to its low budget quality that many fans will love, but it does hinder the presentation of the film overall.
"Parasomnia" is a great find for those willing to look for it and it works with what it has well. Malone can be a little overwhelming with his quirky style at times and it throws the balance of the film off a bit, the the film's originality and charm work overtime to overcome these flaws. Not a great film, it still needed a bit more work, but a surprising little indie release that earns quite a bit of credit where its needed.
BONUS RANT: (Spoiler) From the odd dreams that are experienced by Dan and the films ending, are we to assume that they two star crossed lovers met as children and it was this meeting that inspired him to do what he did? The story never really clarified this aspect of its unraveling and it continued to bother me well after it was finished. Was it a dream or was it a memory?
** Karen F
January 3, 2011
There were some points where this film looked promising - the initial scenes where the girl wakes for short periods for example, but on the whole a run-of-the-mill horror, nothing special, fine for watching after a night on the beer but that's about it.
**** Philip L
December 30, 2010
An entertaining stylish and bloody thriller not without it's flaws. But where it lacks in plausibility it makes up for it with it's creepy and surreal imagery, nicley tuned atmosphere and a whole lot of heart. It's just a shame this film is being overlooked by the horror community. Give it a glance, you might like what you see.
***** Natalie M
December 2, 2010
Brilliant film 3 Just jumped on 2 my favourites list " Love the storyline aswell.
*** Kelly M
November 3, 2010
Not the best acting except for the psycho killer. Lots of Tim Burton-esque imagery. Worth a watch just don't expect much!
** ½ Joe A
October 27, 2010
I give Parasomnia cedit, it's a low budget film that tries to do something different and does have some impressive visuals and FX but, the film lacks the energy or atmosphere to make it work. The leads are rather bland and the cast of genre vets don't play characters that really evoke their talents. The script is uneven as is the pace. It's ironic to complain that a film centering around sleep disorder has got a sleepy pace but it's true. The film could have used a bit more energy and a tighter script to awaken the better horror flick that was sleeping within.
October 25, 2010
During watching this crap .. All I was thinking about who the S.O.B. that recommended it for me.
** ½ Matt F
October 23, 2010
Stylistically it's sound, even pretty, right from it's AIP-esque opening credits. Then you begin to realize the pattern in that it's really just a collection of stunning set-pieces with a rather drab and telegraphed story in between.
The plot holes (of which there are many) I believe are largely due to Malone's almost Stendhal Syndrome romance with imagery. It's so profound that indeed at times it seems he can concentrate on nothing else and reality gets lost in the fray. So if you are a student of the school of substance it's entirely likely that you won't find much of a challenge in Mr. Malone's curriculum.
All in all Parasomnia is The Cell, only in the hands of a much less steady or sure director. If you can imagine such a thing.
‘Parasomnia’ (2008) – William Malone, A Master of Horror
“A Dark Fairy Tale.”
Parasomnia is one of my favorite films. The blend of mechanics, twisted dreamscapes, obsession and psychological flaws that we, as humans, all have, combine in a symphony of delicious horror with an obvious creep factor on many levels in a glorious Steampunk style.
Parasomnia has potential to become a cult classic in is a must in every horror fan’s collections. It was released in 2008 and was both written and directed by William Malone (House on Haunted Hill 1999). It stars Sean Young (Blade Runner 1982), Patrick Kilpatrick (Minority Report 2002), Dylan Purcell (The Unknown 2005) and, last but certainly not least, Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator 1985).
Parasomnia is a story about love and obsession. This is a dark fairy tale where two characters battle over a young sleeping beauty – one obsessed with her body, to the point of kidnapping her after falling in love, and the other, her very soul, where he succeeds in manipulating her dreams and goes to great lengths of mastery over her fragile, virgin mind. It starts off as a love story but soon turns into a bizarre horror with eccentric cinematography and mechanical dolls. There are hints of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) as Malone takes you along with his disturbing. yet imaginative scenes as you experience the world behind closed eyes.
Romeo and Juliet comes to mind when viewing this film, but with a sadistic twist. For those who appreciate the gore factor, there are plenty of ways to satisfy those tastebuds. Parasomnia starts off a bit slow but soon intensifies as you continue to watch. Sergei Prokofiev’s haunting violin piece “Entrance of the Montagues and Capulets,” played by the mechanical dolls, will always echo in my mind.
- William Malone both wrote and directed Parasomnia and funded the entire project himself – thus breaking the first rule of filmmaking: “Never finance your own movies.”
- Parasomnia was filmed on the same stage as House on Haunted Hill (1999), another project directed by William Malone.
- This film is surprisingly not one of the big studio films that William Malone is noted for, as it was actually a personal project. After writing it, he was so taken that he decided to create his masterpiece and avoid the studio route.
- William Malone wrote Parasomnia while he was working on his Masters of Horror episode, “Fair-Haired Child.”
- Finance for the film came from William Malone and a friend refinancing their houses.
- One of the creatures in the film is an unused design from a Masters of Horror episode. Malone actually built the creature himself for the film.
- Malone’s high school garage band, The Plagues, can be heard on the soundtrack, along with other garage bands from the 1960s.
Movie Quotes to Remember
- “Pretty things always have a tragic end. It’s one of the laws of nature and only serves to make them more beautiful.”
- “She’s mine in time, in time she’s mine.”
So, if you find yourself lost in a nightmarish slumber, remember… all you need to do is wake up.
If you haven’t seen this bizarre horror yet, make a note to add it to your movie collection. I found the film creative and it boggles the imagination of those with any kind of sleep disorder. Let us know what you think in the comments!
REVIEW: Parasomnia (William Malone, 2008)
It’s too bad that William Malone wasn’t born in the 1880’s. Then he could’ve wowed audiences during the silent era, without worrying about nonsense like plot, dialogue, or internal logic. Just him, dazzling the crowd with his macabre visions. He has an eye for the expressionistic possibilities of the genre, and a self-funded, self-written tale like Parasomnia should be an opportunity to impress. Instead, the film disappoints, buttressing the impressive images with scenes of inane chatter and predictable scares.
The titular “parasomnia” (behavioral aberrance during transitional sleep phases…or something) belongs to Laura Baxter (Cherilynn Wilson), a girl with such severe narcolepsy that she hasn’t aged mentally. Lovely, innocent, her purity attracts the main character, Danny (Dylan Purcell), as well as a sociopathic mesmerist (Patrick Kilpatrick) who uses his hypnotic powers to ensure a hospital room next to Laura. Danny’s efforts to rescue Laura provide the structure for the film, and her dreams allow for flights of fancy, as she wanders through a field of mirrors, pursued by creatures that move with the twitchy gait of Doctor Vannacutt in House on Haunted Hill and resemble the demon of “Fair-Haired Child.”
If you don’t know those two titles, you should. House on Haunted Hill was a trite remake that became a good film thanks to a great eye for the gothic and surreal. The scenes of people simply investigating the asylum hallways remain some of the creepier imagery of horror in the nineties. “Fair-Haired Child,” Malone’s creepy-as-hell episode for Masters of Horror, remains a career high. At an hour long, the dark fairy-tale story moves furiously through its images of ghost-faced monsters and expressionistic dreamscapes.
Parasomnia is not compact. At a hundred minutes long, the film offers too many scenes of characters sitting down and talking, or standing and discussing, or standing and opining. As a writer, Malone doesn’t inspire much confidence. Despite Laura’s youthful mind, it’s too much to see her, freed from endless sleep, chewing on a newspaper and joyfully spreading ice cream on her face. Additionally, Malone doesn’t always trust when to cut, allowing conversations both expositional and incidental to go on too long. Thankfully, he gets away with a few of these scenes, especially one where Detective Garrett (Jeffrey Combs, a pleasure as always) discusses the hypnotist.
I can’t think of another current horror director who would cover such a scene with those angles, with those kinds of faces, with those bold colors that celebrates the monochromatic. Likewise, the dream sequences occasionally impress, as when a body grows outward from a tree. And the climax of the film stuns. The hypnotist gathers two girls from a recital (one of them Alison Brie of TV’s Community), puts them in goggles, and forces them to play Gustav Holst while puppets creak in the background and drapes cover the enormous room in enormous contours. Watching it, I thought of the scarred Erik in The Phantom of the Opera, who likewise buried his ruined soul behind music and environment. He thought that exterior beauty could mask a broken interior.
Maybe there’s a lesson there.
Film Review: Parasomnia (2008)
**** From: Horrornews.net / 04/02/2015
In “Parasomnia,” a stylish horror/thriller from director William Malone (“House on Haunted Hill,” “Masters of Horror,”) Laura Baxter is a young woman, literally a “sleeping beauty,” who suffers from a medical condition called “parasomnia.” A childhood accident victim, she is actually sleeping her life away, awakening briefly on rare occasions. Art student Danny Sloan falls in love with her, unaware that her hospital neighbor, a terrifying mass murderer and mesmerist named Byron Volpe has other, more sinister plans. Sloan helps Laura escape from her hospital prison only to discover that Volpe is about to enter her dreams
Parasomnia is rich in content. A horror film, a mystery, a fantasy, an action flick all wrapped up in one. And to top it off it tackles a real world ailment that is also the title of the film.
Parasomnia is described on wikipedia as:
Parasomnias are a category of sleep disorders that involve abnormal and unnatural movements, behaviors, emotions, perceptions, and dreams that occur while falling asleep, sleeping, between sleep stages, or arousal from sleep. Most parasomnias are dissociated sleep states which are partial arousals during the transitions between wakefulness and NREM sleep, or wakefulness and REM sleep.
In the case of our film, they refer to it as “sleeping beauty syndrome”. A young girl spends most of her life asleep and wakes every so often into reality. This lasts for moments to minutes in which like a narcoleptic she dozes back off to sleep. In essence, she lives more in her dream state than her actual awake state. Quite an interesting concept that could be taken into a number of directions.
Now I think it’s fair to say that a film could easily just rest on covering the subject of Parasomnia alone and still make for a pretty cool tale. Add to that the ongoing threat of a serial killer like you’ve never seen and we have quite a goulash of content. Our shady figure this round goes by the name of Byron Volpe (Patrick Kilpatrick). Now seeing Byron in his first shots of being kept in a sealed room hooded, mouth gagged and with both arms outstretched per a chain suspension is pretty creepy to begin with. Though it doesn’t take long to understand why he is kept that way and what he’s capable of. The story essentially is almost 2 stories in movement.
We have our bad ass psycho and we have our young Parasomnia sufferer Laura Baxter (Cherilyn Wilson). They both share occupancy in the local psych ward for different reasons. Laura is kept due to her condition and the interest of the hospital staff to subject her to testing per a local sleep analysis group. Volpe is just everyone’s worst nightmare imaginable and is being held as a criminal. They also share a connection in dream land in which Volpe is able to enter and influence her surroundings and thought patterns.
To kind of sum up Byron. He is a master hypnotist per his voice patterns and eye contact. In fact just by looking into one’s eyes he can completely influence his subject into anything he wishes. In his case this usually involves murdering. The hood and mouthpiece are kept on him for these reasons. Another way to put it is…Volpe is more or less a candidate villain that could easily find a home in the TV series “Heroes”.
Danny Sloan (Dylan Purcell) who’s live in girlfriend Denise just packed up and moved out, heads to the hospital to visit his best friend William who is admitted due to his “speed”-taking drug problem. In his visit he encounters both Laura and Volpe. He falls in love with Laura upon sight and relives a past memory in where he met Laura as a child.
Beyond this simple fact, he also takes it upon himself to kidnap her away to keep the cruel hospital staff from using her as a guinea pig. Volpe who “thinks” Laura belongs to him becomes enraged and escapes his confines. The whole ordeal has detective Detective Garrett (Jeffrey Combs) hot on the trail of both incidents. The kidnapping of Laura and Volpe’s painfully bloody escape. While Comb’s inclusion is noteworthy, he is downplayed by Patrick Kilpatrick’s incredibly creepy persona and Cherilyn Wilson….. an absolute beauty to behold. Sean Young makes a opener cameo appearance, though it’s safe to say its short-lived and forgettable.
Parasomnia takes a hard look at the assumed barriers between the dream world and reality. It also has a strong statement embedded about the power of love. From the surreal nightmare worlds to the equally surreal stages that Volpe has constructed, we get our share of eye candy to behold. Hats off to director / writer William Malone who has created one compelling and equally interesting piece of film work. I was a fan during the film way before the final credits came. I also really appreciate the fresh content that is introduce during a quite noticeably dry spell in the horror genre today. Volpe is a great villain that excels what we expect to see and counterbalances the love interest aspect of the film. A hands down keeper in my book with a fresh serving of subject matter attached.
Straight to DVD: “Parasomnia”
From: Bob Calhoun is a longtime Salon contributor / salon.com/ “Parasomnia’s” unintentionally creepy horror
Every time I watch a straight-to-DVD horror movie, I'm always hoping against hope that I'll find the home video equivalent of "Night of the Living Dead," "Halloween" or "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." So many of the movies that set the standards for the genre in the 1960s and '70s were made on shoestring budgets and released to grindhouses and drive-ins, the equivalent of today's straight-to-DVD marketplace. With a rave from Wes Craven and some good reviews on the disc's cover, I hoped that "Parasomnia" might be the movie I've been waiting for. Sadly, my heightened hopes only exacerbated my disappointment.
Directed by William Malone, who did a far better than expected job with his remake of William Castle's "House on Haunted Hill" (1999), "Parasomnia" begins with Sean Young answering the phone and then jumping off a building. For all you "Blade Runner" fans out there, Young doesn't return via flashbacks like 50 Cent, so if you're renting this one for her, you only need to watch the first two minutes. For the next 99 minutes, we're treated to the tale of Danny Sloan (Dylan Purcell), a record store nerd who becomes smitten with a sleeping beauty named Laura Baxter (Cherilyn Wilson) while visiting his pal in the most casually guarded psych ward of all time. Laura suffers from a condition that has her sleeping through most of her existence with only a few scattered waking moments, making her "the perfect girl" according to Danny's seedy pal in the rehab unit.
When Danny finds out that Laura is going to be moved to a dubious sleep research center, he kidnaps her and gives her naked body lots of sponge baths in some of the film's most unintentionally creepy moments. "I really love her like I've never loved anyone else," Danny confesses even though Laura spends much of her time snoozing and peeing on herself, but looking really pretty while doing so. Unfortunately for Danny's budding one-sided romance, Laura is controlled by Byron Volpe (Patrick Kilpatrick), a mass murdering hypnotist and rare book dealer who is tied up all medieval style in a padded cell back in the psych ward. With his psychic powers, Volpe commands Laura to kill Danny's slutty neighbor and disembowel a detective. Things get only more confusing from there as Volpe escapes from lockdown to wreak his own mayhem and the whole thing ends in a limited budget CGI dream world where Laura walks around in a slip and is menaced by creepy little trolls.
Straight-to-DVD regular Jeffrey Combs ("Re-Animator") plays the homicide detective who doesn't get eviscerated and director John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London," "Animal House") makes a cameo, but these appearances don't help "Parasomnia" live up to the low-level hype it's generated at various horror movie conventions over the last couple of years. Don't get me wrong, I really want to support that rare straight-to-DVD horror movie made by someone who actually wanted to make it, but I have to give this one a T for torturous. "Parasomnia" almost cured my insomnia. Hopefully Malone can bounce back with a remake of "Mr. Sardonicus" or "The Tingle
Parasomnia (2008): Review, out now on DVD
******6 1/2 / 10 May 23, 2014 Matt Wavish / http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk
William Malone is the man responsible for one of the biggest guilty pleasures in horror, House on Haunted Hill (1999). We know we probably shouldn’t like it, but damn it’s so much fun it’s impossible to dislike. He followed it up with the disappointing Feardotcom in 2002, but with Parasomnia the director found his feet again, and sadly hasn’t directed a film since.
For all its dodgy acting, cheesy script and b-movie shocks, Parasomnia is actually a very impressive horror film, and again sits in the bracket of “I know I shouldn’t really be liking this, but I can’t help it!” It moves along at a great pace, constantly delivering some great horror moments, and with it comes two lead characters you actually want to root for, and a villain that is up there with some of the best horror villains of the noughties.
Parasomnia see’s the rather fine looking Laura Baxter (Cherilyn Wilson) suffering from a sleep disorder where she is literally sleeping her life away, only waking up for brief moments. Art student Danny Sloan (Dylan Purcell) falls in love with her, and breaks her out of the asylum she is being treated in, but unknown to him this sets off a chain of horrific events. Laura is actually being controlled in her mind by a crazed killer who is locked up in the asylum cell next to her, the totally bonkers Byron Volpe (Patrick Kilpatrick), and now that Laura is out, he can control her mind and go about murdering innocent people.
With the police closing in on Danny and Laura, and the bodies mounting up, Danny must figure out how to stop Volpe once and for all, before he too breaks out and takes his beloved Laura for his own sick pleasures.
The film has a great set up that more often than not delivers, and Kilpatrick as Volpe is seriously a superb villain, and it is a shame we don’t see more of him in horror features. Wilson is incredibly sexy as Laura, and spends the majority of the film in her nightgown, which is something we used to see plenty of in 80’s and 90’s horror. Purcell does a great job as Dylan too, so the cast deliver where they are required to.
However, it is the horror moments that really sell this film: once in Laura’s dreams, we turn to nightmares as Volpe enters her mind, warning her of The Clouded Man, and that he can protect her. The visuals here are reminiscent of Hellboud: Hellraiser 2, and they make look cheap and tacky, but that is part of the immense charm of this horror feature. Sudden creepy faces appear on screen, and they too are great designs worthy of any nightmare.
The finale delivers in spades, as Malone let’s rip with some great visual treats and some awesome music which serves the horrific visuals well. Puppets, sexy girls with violins, a detective constantly trying to shoot himself in the head, and all sorts of macabre devices all come together for a rip roaring twenty minutes of sheer horror brilliance. Some great visual effects are also used on Volpe’s eyes as he attempts to control people minds, and the design team came up with a terrific torture chamber-like finish involving Laura being turned into a sort of Angel for Volpe’s pleasure.
Never a film to hold back, Parasomnia simply goes for broke, and is all the better for it. It certainly doesn’t break any new ground, and will never be considered a classic, but for a Friday night horror feature to enjoy simply because you love horror, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Parasomnia (Movie Review)
From: bloodygoodhorror.com | By Mark on October 11th, 2010
Director: William Malone | Release Date: 2008
For every mainstream disappointment like "My Soul To Take," there are dozens if not hundreds of straight-to-DVD horror releases waiting to be stamped "the next cult classic." Genre fans that are malcontented with the rehashes they are forced to endure will often take up the cause to shoehorn a video release into 'cult' status, ignoring its major shortcomings simply because its original. Such is the case with "Parasomnia," a film by William Malone ("Featdotcom," "House on Haunted Hill") that is greatly flawed, but manages to be visually arresting enough that some fans may be inclined to give it a pass.
No one can argue that "Parasomnia" is a surreal effort. There is an innate dreamlike quality to the film making and storytelling, and the experience in general is quite disorienting. Although theres quite a bit of abstraction here, there is meant to be a central story that drives the plot, and it's a shame, because that's where this whole thing starts to unravel quite quickly.
After a brief and stark suicide scene that is sort of explained later in the film, we meet our main protagonist Danny, an art student who's live-in girlfriend recently left him without notice. Struggling to make sense of it all, he visits a friend in rehab, and in doing so discovers two diametrically opposite characters in adjacent rooms in the hospital. The first is Byron Volpe, a former hypnotist and convicted killer who forces other people to commit heinous acts for him. Volpe is hooded and bound to the walls in crude fashion, in a room that inexplicably looks more like a prison cell than a hospital room. Although this character is the most interesting in the film and the main antagonist, he's absent from a majority of the experience.
After making brief eye contact with Volpe, Danny moves on to the next room where he sees Laura (Cherilyn Wilson), a fair and beautiful young woman who due to a sleeping disorder has been asleep for nearly her entire life, who only wakes up briefly to form crude sentences or smile coyly upon discovering that she's half naked being sponge bathed in a dirty attic apartment by a man that kidnapped her. Not only did I not make the latter half of that up, the kidnapper in question is in fact Danny, the character that we as a viewer are supposed to identify with and lend our support to. In story, this is lauded as an act of heroism because he's technically "saving" her from the nefariously named Dr. Byle, who we're told is going to perform terrible experiments on her, or something. In reality, this sequence of events looks a lot like a kidnapping and borderline rape scenario where a boy falls in love with a sleeping girl because she's pretty, sneaks her out of a hospital, undresses her, and soaps up her breasts as a way of saying "welcome to my apartment!"
It's at this point that "Parasomnia" really begins to stumble. As it turns out, Volpe has a psychological link with Laura, and is extremely distraught when she is taken from the hospital. In order to get her back, Volpe haunts her dreams and forces her to kill numerous people in and around Danny's apartment. Meanwhile, two detectives (one of which is played by a haggard looking Jeffery Combs) pin the crime on Danny and attempt to track him down. What unfolds is a very disorienting mix up of scenes that include poorly rendered but appropriately surreal dream sequences, a handful of "whoops she's randomly falls asleep" comedy sequences, some surprisingly gory kill scenes, and yet another sponge bathing scene (this time with a cheerleading uniform!).
Underneath the "horror stuff" is a Romeo and Juliet-esque love story where Danny, the martyr, professes his love for that sleepy girl whose tits he soaped twice, and vows to stay by her side even after the bodies start piling up. I'm sure that this story arc was meant to be disturbing, and it is, but it's also played up to be classically romantic, which doesn't sit very well considering how delinquent the whole thing is. There is an attempt to add additional weight to the romance by offering a flashback where the two meet as kids, but it's not at all convincing. The weirdness would be entirely forgivable if it wasn't meant to be the entire focus of the film, but instead its this particular off-putting aspect that drags "Parasomnia" down into the dregs, at the expense of its lasting visuals and intriguing antagonist.
Though all hope seemed to be lost at a point, most of the last half an hour of the film is quite visually and thematically intriguing. The climactic confrontation between Danny and Volpe that takes place among a menagerie of twisted mechanical puppets backed by classical music is a major highlight of the film, as it should be. Because most of "Parasomnia" is bleak and gray (with constant computer-generated cloud cover to hammer the point home) this portion stands out and feels very strong and well thought out. It's almost as if Malone worked backwards from this idea, and lost a little bit of life and cohesion with each subsequent scene. It's a shame, because the character of Byron Volpe was so well written and well acted that it deserved to be in the forefront of the film.
For all of its visual strengths "Parasomnia" ultimately fails because of the shoehorned romantic subtext. Bully to Cherilyn Wilson for being so willing to have her ta-tas cleansed twice on screen in her first feature film role, but there's nothing about the love story that improves or sustains this film in any measurable way. What could have been a visually strong and disturbing story about a mad genius was instead a jumbled pile of throwaway kills underlined by an unintentionally creepy love story. "Parasomnia" may find a home with horror fans with working remotes that can fast forward through the nonsense, slow it down for the soaping scenes, and skip to the end for the real worthwhile stuff. Otherwise, I just don't see much to hold on to here.