By Christopher Null
You've got to hand it to Dario Argento -- he might be a king of schlock, but he sure is inventive about it.
With Sleepless (a direct-to-video feature), Argento somehow convinced Max Von Sydow to appear in this story about a decades-old killer who appears to have come back from the dead. Or is it a copycat killer? Von Sydow plays an old Italian(!) police detective who solved a 1983 serial killing spree in Turin. Long since retired, he is called upon once again when the same M.O. turns up in a rash of murders in the present. Argento spikes this derivative plot idea with some curious (to say the least) plot details. The original killer was a dwarf -- and the police round up the entire Turin dwarf population in the present-day investigation. And some of the murders are nothing short of bizarre -- most notably when one poor girl gets repeatedly impaled through the face with a clarinet, shown in graphic detail. Argento's usual touches -- plenty of gore in extreme close-up -- are readily found.
The film's production values are hit and miss. Von Sydow is quite engaging in his role, but he barely gets any screen time. Most of the film is populated by unknown Italian nationals whose dialogue has all been dubbed over. (Not very well, I hasten to add.) At two hours in length, it's too long to keep the thrills coming, and Argento relies on a painful crutch to keep the plot moving, as the unseen present-day killer moves -- following the pattern of a twisted nursery rhyme (actually written by Argento's daughter Asia) -- from one girl to the next. When he's not killing, it's mostly people hypthosisizing about "the dwarf."
The ending's actually pretty good -- it just takes too long in getting there.
Aka Non ho sonno.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 5th January 2001
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 5 Rotten: 5
Cast & Crew
Starring: Faten Hamama as Nadia Lotfy, Mariam Fakhr Eddine as Safia, Omar Sharif as Aziz, Emad Hamdy as Mustafa, Hind Rostom as Kawthar, Rushdy Abaza as Samir, Yehia Chahine as Nadia's Father