Sleepless (2000)
Artisan Entertainment
Cast: Max Von Sydow, Stefano Donisi
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Cast & Crew Filmographies, Bonus Trailers

Dario Argento’s latest film ’Sleepless’ (aka ’Non Ho Sonno’) shows the director attempting to re-capture some of his old glory, as the film displays shades of his classics ’Deep Red’ and ’Tenebre’. Thirteen years ago a series of murders were committed by ’The Killer Dwarf’, a midget novelist who had gone insane. (Supposedly, he was driven insane by a nursery rhyme!) The killing spree ended when his body was found in a river. Now, the murders have apparently started again. Moretti (Max Von Sydow), the police detective who initially cracked the case, and Giacomo (Stefano Dionisi), the son of one of the original victims, are drawn into this mysterious case. As improbable as it may seem, all of the clues point to the fact that ’The Killer Dwarf’ has returned from the grave to kill again. Moretti and Giacomo search for clues as they suddenly find themselves being stalked by the killer.

While ’Sleepless’ shows some of the artistic flourishes which made Argento famous, the story simply drags in places. As with many recent gialli, the audience is never given a clear-cut group of suspects. So, when the killer is unmasked, it is awkwardly anti-climactic. (ala ’Scream 3’). Actually, the way that the story is brought together at the end is fairly ingenious and creative, but there’s simply no way that the audience could have seen it coming. Before arriving at this conclusion, the film contains many superfluous dialogue scenes, which ultimately add nothing to the film. The movie opens with a 20-minute stalking scene which is engaging, but at the same time pushes the viewer away, as we have no idea what is going on… other than the fact that someone is getting killed. ’Sleepless’ offers some nice gore effects and a good performance by Von Sydow, but once again, the film can’t live up to Argento’s great early films. On the plus side, it’s about one-hundred times better than ’Phantom of the Opera’!

The ’Sleepless’ DVD has created some controversy due to the fact that the image is presented full-frame. While the pan and scan here isn’t all that noticeable, it is quite clear in some shots that Argento’s visual composition has been ruined. The picture is quite clear and sharp, showing occasional defects from the source print. The colors are rich and true, and the film doesn’t have the dark or washed-out look that so many EuroHorror films suffer from. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track offers clear dialogue and a rousing surround sound mix. Also, the bass is deep and rich and the score by Goblin is very memorable (i.e. I can’t get the title track out of my head). The theatrical trailer is presented on the DVD, and ironically, it’s letterboxed at 1.85:1. We also get filmographies for Argento and the main cast, as well as a set of bonus trailers.

When will Artisan stop butchering horror movies and come to its senses, we may never know but one wishes the studio would apply a little more common sense to its genre releases in particular.