Thoughts on “The Sandman”

While I’m writing about this much later, I watched this over the Christmas break, and I was wondering, after watching it, what caused my reaction to the movie.  Did my heart just grow three sizes because it was Christmas?  Are these horror movies finally wearing me down?

Because this movie is terribly flawed and yet I found myself enjoying it anyway.

The big flaws all follow around what the movie is about … or, rather, that the movie doesn’t really know what it wants to be about.  Which, again, is something that I’ve savaged other movies for, but found didn’t bother me that much in this movie.  The movie itself focuses on a young girl whose father is killed by a monstrous creature who then has to move in with her aunt, who takes pornographic pictures for a living.  But other than it being shown at the beginning and being a minor complication in her being able to take the girl in, this really doesn’t come up again.  It provides a little fanservice at the beginning of the movie and then is completely ignored.  The girl herself has strange powers, which include summoning the titular monster “The Sandman” when she feels threatened, but the movie is unclear about whether she’s supposed to be a girl with powers that she can’t control that sometimes cause her to lash out and hurt people directly — she does it to the aunt’s boyfriend when he wants to kill her to stop the monster — or whether she’s the victim of otherworldly forces that spawn through her power, as “The Sandman” seems to be.  Also, there’s a shady organization that wants to capture her in order to use her powers, but they show up just  in time to be a complication and to bring the girl’s powers out again — and she and The Sandman wipe most of them out — but really don’t do anything than to hint that there’s more of a world out there that includes such powers but the movie really doesn’t do anything with it.

So, this is a movie that is so convoluted and so unclear in what it wants to be that I should by all rights dislike it.  And yet, as noted, I enjoyed it.  Why?  I think the reason is that it ties into two movies or sorts of movies that I also oddly liked.  The first is “Arizona”, where it comes across a lot like that and the other sorts of movies that you’d see on Lifetime or Crave in Canada where there’s just enough plot to get you through a couple of hours of light entertainment but for the most part the plot gets out of the way of the rest of the things that are going on.  This movie is quite like that, as the plot comes in just in time to create the next complication for them but then gets out of the way so that we can watch them get out of it.  Thus, this means that the plot issues end up  being like the ones in “Friday the 13th”, where we can see that they’re there but the movie itself doesn’t seem to care at all about them, and so by that it kinda chides us for caring about them, so we feel embarrassed if we worry about it.  The movie never makes these revelations seem important.  They just seem to happen to be the case.  So it doesn’t really milk it for drama and so make us have to pay attention to see if they pull that off, and so can just follow it along as a series of events that happen to get us to the next part of the movie.

However, the movie falls down on this in the credits scenes.  There are two of them.  The first one shows that after they lock The Sandman away the girl still has her powers … but we knew that her powers were independent of The Sandman so it’s not a surprise that she has them, and there’s no reason for us to consider her powers necessarily sinister from the movie itself, since most of the time the locked away Sandman was the killer.  The second one shows the researcher from the shady government agency bringing The Sandman to the agency to study, and seeing some grains of sand fall from the statue.  This gives the agency some importance and also focuses us on The Sandman whom the movie never really explained, meaning that both of them were too important for the lack of attention they had in the movie.  So those scenes are the only blemishes in a movie that seemed to be striving to make us not really care about the details and instead to encourage us to simply follow along and not think too much.  And it was pretty successful at that.

For all of its flaws, I still enjoyed this movie … but not enough to put it on my list of movie that I will definitely rewatch.  So it will go in the box of movies that I might rewatch at some point but really can’t say when.


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