Hollywood believes strongly in fairy tales, especially with regard to conjuring them as horror tales than mere fantasy movies for example:  Snow White: A Tale of Terror [1997], Rumpelstiltskin [1995], and Red Riding Hood [2011].  Director Pearry Reginald Teo known for Necromentia [2009] and Dracula: The Dark Prince [2013], presents screenwriter Josh Nadler’s first feature obviously inspired by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm’s story “Little Briar Rose”. However, this film definitely is not a supernatural horror, rather a fantasy thriller with mystery undertones, with an entirely new, dark vision of the classic story, which everyone knows very well.

Thomas Kaiser (Ethan Peck [Nothing Left to Fear 2013])) inherited a mysterious mansion from his long-lost uncle, Gregory, automatically invoking the thoughts of an old dark house, and while true, a slight change, an ancestral mansion with an ancient curse stemming back to a bloodline going back to the crusades. In his new role, the guardian is to keep the evil demons in the house at bay by obeying the rules, for his lifespan, instead chooses to unravel the mystery of the house, with the help of estate agent Linda (Natalie Hall, known from the True Blood series). Her reasoning for pressing the issue her brother went missing at Kaiser Gardens, as did many others since the existence of the house and she demands answers, hence forcing a friendship with Thomas. Once at the new place, he ignores the rules and finds hidden rooms in the basement, only opening with his blood, and his dreams become stronger succeeding in awakening the sleeping beauty Briar Rose (India Eisley), informing him to rescue and free her from the demons (the young Briar portrayed by Anna Harr). Whenever he attempts to wake the woman with a kiss, searing images of a dreaded mansion paralyze Thomas with pain and immediately jolt him back to reality. She’s trapped inside of a world that seems to exist only in Thomas’ mind complete with rich set creation shockingly found in an indie film, he becomes convinced that the girl exists somewhere in the real world, where, of course in the house, with the kiss and freedom breaks the curse. The introduction of Bruce Davison, from X-Men [2000] as Richard, ghost-hunter with a kooky background, provides a bit of humor and awakens the attention of the viewer for the remainder of the film, his quirks supply some refreshing moments. We, the audience, also learn that Linda is a ghost hunter believer, with an understanding of various supernatural entities, in cursory manner only. So far, a believable cast to a point, then from left field, the ex-boyfriend of Linda tests the limits, Daniel (James Adam Lim) – who gives a great moment of humor again, with a dash of cunning charm. Daniel supplies the deciphering to the clues with his hacker skill set presented in the standardized reflecting code on his face while everyone else hangs out waiting for the results.

Aside from this extended plot point, the scares come as a rarity, jolts for a younger market thanks to horrific mannequin-like monsters that guard all around the house provide some much-needed horror to the mostly fantastical film. The environment of the house speaks of the multiple layers to this dark fantasy, and sadly, nothing exists for the true horror fans or gore-hounds. One must note character Nathan (Zack Ward (Circus Kane [2017])) his screen presence almost obscure the effort comes through incredible making the most of the opportunity and giving a moment of light-heartedness to a dismal outlook so early in the movie. The Curse of Sleeping Beauty suffers from tiresome slow-pace in the first act, and while trying to establish the characters and the relationship to each other the suspense trudges as if stuck in tar, only by the second act with an assist from Davidson, does the film start picking up speed. This film does keep the wheels on progress forward with very interesting scenery visual styles, though only found in the dream world, otherwise the outside life, resides in grim and darkness, with a heavy dose of doom and gloom covering everywhere, tending for awkwardness and a feeling of confusing layers. Lastly, fret not, if the ending feels a tad rush, many conclude that we needed to click the rewind button feeling as if something quickly happened, alas no, the ending is just that messed up and requires a viewing just to understand that without this reviewer spoiling it.

This ‘Sleeping Beauty’ clearly not intended for young children, however the true audience lies with the teenage market, and likely garnishes more attention if at least one of the principles roles had a teen actor included excelling more character development especially since no scares truly exist.  The movie is available with a solid distribution from XLrator Media, except no body count, comes with the release.

This review posted in June of 2016 on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website 1,767 views.


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IMDb Rating: 4.3/10

Baron’s Rating: 4.0/10