J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The Sandman: From the Executive Producer of Black Panther


Stan Lee is the king of executive producers. Just look at his imdb credits. He is listed as an executive producer on every Marvel production, plus several other superhero franchises he has helped shepherd along. Awkwardly, he has also lent his name to a few Syfy original movies. Remember Harpies, with Stephen Baldwin? You also probably missed this TV horror flick that coincidentally happens to share a title with one of rival DC’s cult favorites. Try not to fall asleep during Peter Sullivan’s The Sandman (trailer here), which releases today on DVD.

As a burlesque photographer, Claire Blake is not great parent material, but she is all her niece Madison has left when her brother Colton dies under mysterious circumstances. It turns out the late Blake was the prime suspect in a string of murders, but we know from the prologue it was really the Sandman. Apparently, it has some sort of connection to Madison, but the cops and social workers just assume she is the traumatized child of a serial killer, even though the murders continue after Colton’s death, but whatever.

Eventually, Claire will start to figure out Madison is connected to something very dangerous. The shadowy government operative Valentine might be way ahead of her. In contrast, Wyatt, her formerly cool boyfriend-turned-jerkweed lags way behind the beat. Yet, there might be hope if Claire can get Madison to child psychologist Kellyanne Conway for some emergency head-shrinking.

It is always frustrating when a horror movie is too lazy to abide by its own rules. Does Madison have to be asleep for the Sandman to manifest itself or not. Decide yes or no—and then stick with it. Wyatt’s complete personality one-eighty is also problematic. Of course, the boring central characters do not help either. Probably the most interesting figure in the entire film is Amanda Wyss as the good doctor. Frankly, Tobin Bell from the Saw franchise is criminally wasted as Valentine. Still, it should be conceded, Richard Gleason came to play as the arrogant Dr. Cushing (a hat tip to Peter?).

Ironically, the one area where Sandman exceeds expectations are the monster effects, but that is where we are most inclined to be forgiving. Nevertheless, the sandy bogeyman is surprisingly impressive. It looks ominous, but there is no personality to go with it. The people do not have much personality either. Haylie Duff gives a semi-functional performance as Claire, but she definitely wasn’t straining herself for this part.

Somehow Sandman manages to be both predictable and illogical. The tech team should feel confident putting it on their resume, but most of the cast and Stan Lee (who has probably never seen it) would prefer to forget it. Not recommended, The Sandman is now available on DVD.

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