There was a time in horror history when the “creature feature” was king. Moviegoers would flock to cinemas and gather in anticipation of the big reveal – to get a good look at the monster (or monsters) that had been terrorizing the helpless victims on screen. Sure, a lot of these films are a bit cheesy in hindsight, but there was an art to it. Unfortunately, that art form has been lost over the last several decades. Is it too late for the former king of the horror genre to make a comeback? Maybe not.
Sleepwalkers is hands-down one of the best creature features I’ve seen in a long, long time. It’s fun, has great visuals, and the writing is fantastic. You’d never know that such a product came from an up and coming director and production team all on a micro budget. The film has been making it’s rounds on the festival circuit for a short while now, and I expect to see it popping up at many more in the near future. I imagine it will make some waves once it finds it’s way in front of a larger audience. The same could be said for Director Ryan Lightbourn if this film is any indication of his talent.
As far as the story goes, it’s a pretty standard affair. A bunch of kids go to a getaway for the weekend, and during all the fun, the shit hits the fan.They later get some unexpected help from a few interesting characters. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The simple, but effective, formula is only further enhanced by a great script and strong performances.
Sleepwalkers is one of those rare films that can be fun for everyone, and it never feels like it’s trying too hard. The script is hilarious and believable, the characters have heart, and the performances are almost universally positive. That said, one stands out and steals the show, I’m talking about Doo Doo Brown’s performance as Tre; the convict who’s just in the wrong place at the wrong time during transport. The humor doesn’t drown out the scares, and it’s an excellent blend of horror and heart. The film seems to have a sincerity about it that almost serves as a love letter to horror flicks of yesteryear… or many yesteryears ago.
The creatures are creepy and look incredible. While their stories are told over a campfire, or as a legend from the locals, these monstrous beings definitely give you a reason to fear them. On the same note, most of the kills are so well done that the not-so-obvious budgetary constraints are rarely noticed. Filmed in the heart of Florida, the open fields, small town vibe, and energetic retro-synths bring an awesome setting for the story to unravel in. It’s got the old-school/throwback presentation that seems to be catching on in a lot of movies these days. And that’s not a bad thing.
Sleepwalkers deserves a spot at the top of your “must-see” lists. Whether you need to get yourself to a festival, or wait until some distribution deal gets worked out, this is mandatory viewing for any horror fan. Don’t sleep on Sleepwalkers.
Sleepwalkers [FSHFF Review]
Unfamiliar to most, Ryan Lightbourn will be a name that will be known in the horror scene in time. Sleepwalkers leaves a great impression for an early entry into what I hope to be a long stay in the horror community. Do not miss this film.