I admit, when I first saw 2016’s The Curse Of Sleeping Beauty in the Netflix horror streaming queue (it’s not yet available on Blu-ray or DVD but did, at least according to the poster, receive a theatrical release — somewhere), I assumed it was a product of The Asylum, given that they have a penchant for cranking out low-budget Brothers Grimm-based crap. They’re not the only ones doing so these days, however, and it turns out they’re innocent of the charge of having anything to do with this one, as well — which is, believe it or not, kind of a pity, since then it would have had a chance to be of the “so bad it’s good” variety. Instead, this filmed-on-the-cheap-in-the-Philippines snoozer from director/co-writer (along with Josh Nadler) Pearry Reginald Teo doesn’t manage to pass “go” and collect its $200 and remains firmly in the “so bad it’s still just bad” camp.
Based on a comic by I’ve never even heard of, much less read, of the same name by Everette Hartsoe, The Curse Of Sleeping Beauty tells the story of a bland,personality-free zone named Thomas Kaiser (played by Ethan Peck), a painter who has been haunted by dreams of an ethereally beautiful woman (India Eisley) who he can’t seem to shake from her slumber no matter how hard he tries. Then one day, in the “real” world, his uncle kills himself and he inherits his run-down mansion that’s been in the family for generations. Upon making a cursory examination of the property, he learns of an ancient curse placed upon it, and finds himself thrust, unwillingly at first, into the role of a dual protector : he must assume his familial responsibility of keeping the demons trapped within the estate at bay and find a way to wake the eternally narcoleptic princess (whose name, we learn, is Briar Rose — go ahead, I cringed, too) at the same time. He’s got help in the form of friendly realtor Linda (Natalie Hall) and paranormal investigator Richard (Bruce Davison — a guy who’s made a career out of “you just never know where he’s gonna turn up next” roles), but he’s got his magical work cut out for him, that’s for sure.
Teo’s visual ambition far exceeds his grasp here as he tries to construct one memorably dream-like image after another but lacks the budget to realize any of them. To the director’s credit this doesn’t result in anything downright embarrassing, but it does get frustrating, as well as repetitious, to see him try and do things that he just plain can’t. The first half of the film is an especially rough slog, particularly since Peck is relied on so heavily to carry things and is in no way up to the task, but once events start moving at a more bearable clip, it’s the biggest case of “too little, too late” you can possibly imagine — Briar Rose may have a stupid name, but she’s got the right idea : sleeping through this movie is your best option.
Still, all that bullshit is worth it if we get a decent resolution, right? Sorry to say, but don’t hold your breath on that score, either. The Curse Of Sleeping Beauty delivers audiences one final insult by setting things up for a sequel that I can’t imagine anyone actually wants. Hint to Teo and company : if your goal is to get us to come back for a second flick, you’d better make damn sure we care about what happens in the first one. This is just basic “Storytelling 101” stuff, but this film fails at that as surely — and as completely — as it does at everything else.