September 1, 2014

In My Sleep

In My Sleep is what you get when a mediocre filmmaker gets entirely too excited after seeing Memento for the first time: cheap, confusing, and kind of shitty. In fact, you could say that if you watch this movie, you'll be in your sleep in no time! Ha! I got a million of 'em, a-cha-cha!

A guy who looks enough like Helo that I was continually annoyed he wasn't Helo stars as Marcus, a shallow, self-hating sex addict who is also a sleepwalker who continually wakes up in various embarrassing places with no memory of how he came to be there. If that doesn't sound like enough crippling mental issues for one indie film protagonist, trust me, it's more than enough. And if you haven't already started writing the plot for this movie in your head, then you're probably a happy, well-adjusted person who hasn't spent her life watching terrible indie suspense thrillers.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, not-Helo awakens in bed covered in blood with the Fuzz beating down his door. Our hero hides his bloody knife and cleans up a bit before letting the Man in. While one of the Po-pos glances briefly around searches the apartment, the other gives one of the most jaw-droppingly awful performances you've never seen as he interrogates Marcus with all the intimidation that his utter absence of acting talent can muster. Marcus stands in awe of the bad acting clinic the 5-0 puts on, gives him some bull, and sends him and his partner off none the wiser. Soon enough Marcus finds out that his best friend's wife Ann, with whom he just had a one-night stand, has been knife-murdered, and the best friend (a certain Justin) is increasingly suspected of being the culprit. Except when the schizophrenic detective handling the case has another episode and decides to treat Marcus like the prime suspect instead. It's that kind of movie.

Marcus worries that he may have murdered his best friend's wife in a sleepwalking stupor, so he does what any of us would do: He gets Mako to handcuff him to his bed every night so he won't go out a-murderin'. Mako clearly wants to jump his bones, but being that he's a sex addict, he flatly rejects the advances of his hot, unattached, and obviously (and I mean obviously) willing upstairs neighbor. No, instead he goes to Sexaholics Anonymous (I'm serious) where he immediately puts the make on fellow sex addict and lifelike mannequin Gwen (Abigail Spencer), who is emphatic that she will only be friends with men from this point forward--no sex, no siree! Marcus invites Gwen to totally-not-prelude-to-freaky-sex dinner at his apartment, but then Mako appears at the door with handcuffs asking if it's time to "lock you up", and Gwen leaves in a huff. See, it's funny because she's jealous and thinks he's going to have intense light bondage sex with Mako, when really he's only trying to avoid sleepwalker murder! Oh Gwen, you've got it all wrong!

Once he finds out Gwen is a nurse, Marcus gives her a sample of the blood he was earlier covered in to find out if it's his or not, despite the fact that he clearly has no injury that would've produced that much blood. (I assume the film's budget didn't cover the forensics lab in his bedroom in which he stored this sample for several days.) Turns out it's someone else's blood (bum bum bum!), but then Gwen implies that she won't send the sample off for the necessary further testing to find out whose blood it is unless he sleeps with her. Now that the movie has finally had a decent scene and built a modicum of interest and dramatic tension, the next scene immediately undercuts it all by revealing that Gwen is in fact Ann's previously-mentioned but unseen sister who has been spying on Marcus. See, Ann confessed her one-night stand to Gwen just before her murder, so Gwen infiltrated the SA meeting on suspicion that Marcus was involved.

Um...then why did Gwen get all huffy when Mako showed up with the cuffs? And why did she hint that she would help Marcus in exchange for sex? I think writer/director/producer/caterer/Grand Moff/Supreme Overloard of the Tripton Lineage Allen Wolf indulged in about 68 too many script re-writes. You've got your sex addiction plot and your murderous sleepwalker plot, and they seem to exist in separate movies. Equally boring, stiffly acted, boring movies, but separate movies. The one point at which it seemed these two plots might intersect in some way (Gwen's demand for sex in order to continue helping Marcus despite her earlier dedication to not engaging in such relations) is undermined by the sudden and highly moronic revelation that Gwen is Ann's sleuthing sister and not a sex addict at all, utterly ruining the film's one chance of rising to the mediocrity of your average Hitchhiker episode.

Oh, and once Gwen reveals her secret truth, she disappears from the movie. That's right, her sleuthing, her accusations, the whole whose-blood-is-it bit--all of it gets dropped like a smart bomb on the Middle East. Gwen doesn't factor into the reveal of the killer at all.

If you care about the resolution of this story--and God help you if you do--Marcus reads that sleepwalkers don't swim during their episodes (both Marcus and Justin were established as swimmers early in the film), so he places the knife in the drain at the bottom of the pool in his apartment complex. When Justin confronts him over Ann's death, Marcus calls Mako to check on the knife, which she immediately does. Man, this chick changes into a swimsuit and goes downstairs to the pool and dives to the bottom of it to root around in the disgusting pool drain to see if the knife Marcus may or may not have murdered someone with is still safely hidden on demand, and the guy won't even return her flirtation. Men. Amirite, ladies?

Anyway, when she tells him the knife is missing, Marcus knows he's innocent after all (so then whose blood was he covered in, and why?) and goads Justin into revealing that he's actually the killer. (I hope you were sitting down for that shocking revelation.) They fight, because you have to fight in these things, and then the bronze show up just in time for Justin to accidentally fall on the knife and die. The film's final scene has Mako revealing that Marcus did sleep with her some days before--in his sleep (like in the title!)--but doesn't remember. (Rob Ford might want to give this "did it in my sleep" excuse a try.) They embrace in a way that (I guess?) means Marcus is going to try to have an actual relationship for the first time. Because nothing gets you to settle down with a girl like sleeping with your best friend's wife, thinking you might have murdered her, concealing your possible murderin' from the police, and watching your best friend die in your arms after a struggle over the knife he tried to kill you with, amirite? Guise?

You know you're in trouble when Mako gives by far the best performance in the movie. She's genuine, likeable, and believable in the role, none of which describes any of the other actors. The better ones (Justin, Ann, Marcus) are stiff and awkward, while the less said about the rest (Gwen, the schizo detective, the kid playing Young Marcus in the repressed memory scene that reveals why he's both a sleepwalker and a sex addict*), the better. In fact, the less said about this movie, the better.

Now how about a romantic comedy starring Helo and Mako? Helo is the intergalactic bounty hunter, Mako is the Cylon infiltrator who falls in love with him, and somehow the whole thing ends with Cylon raiders attacking the Death Star.

"You're far too trusting. Caprica is too remote to make an effective demonstration, but don't worry. We'll deal with your toaster friends soon enough."

======================================================

* Spoiler: He has daddy issues.