It's 3D mania all over again (previously it was last year's THE CHILD'S EYE) for the Pang brothers (in this case, it's just Oxide Pang's solo effort) in another -- drumroll, please -- disappointment called SLEEPWALKER. At the first glance, SLEEPWALKER looks potential enough as a comeback effort since 2006's RE-CYCLE. It has Angelica Lee (the director's wife) in the titular role, and a gripping premise that blends somnambulism with psychological thriller undertones. Too bad everything about this movie is a big waste of time, and I must say, Oxide Pang has never been this worse in his directing career.
Angelica Lee stars as Yi, a lonely woman who runs a garment factory in her own apartment. She's been living a mundane life and frequently haunted by a repeated dream over the years -- a weird dream in which she finds herself stranded in a wasteland and a corpse is buried somewhere underneath. Not only that, she is also a sleepwalker who often wakes up from terrible dreams that she can't remember how come her hands ends up being dirty, her belongings misplaced or her footprints appeared on the bedroom floor.
However, it isn't just her terrible dreams and sleepwalking issue that plagued her ongoing life. Her ex-husband Ming (Kenny Wong) has gone missing, and Yi is the main suspect since she is the last person Ming has met on the night of his subsequent disappearance. Sergeant Au (Huo Siyan) suspects something is not right with Yi, especially after she has caught her wandering around at night in her nightgown. That's not all, Au's cousin Peggy (Charlie Young), who has recently paid the ransom for her kidnapped son, is reportedly missing as well. Could these two separate missing cases are somehow connected? As the movie goes on, Yi agrees to cooperate with Sergeant Au to recall her dreams through a series of hypnotism, which subsequently reveals something that Yi has never suspect all this while.
It's a shame that Oxide Pang has botches a good premise with unfocused direction, while the movie suffers miserably from languid pace and heavy on exposition. For a movie like SLEEPWALKER, you would expect Oxide Pang could have done something imaginative during its dream sequence. Unfortunately that is hardly the case. Not even the additional 3D factor is matter at all. In fact, the whole 3D angle is simply unnecessary (especially with all those unnecessary shaky-cam and jump cuts).
As for the screenplay, the supposedly intriguing mystery behind the storytelling effort is as pedestrian and uninteresting as it goes. Forget about the visual interpretation needed mostly for this kind of genre, because it seems that Pang prefers to go cerebral instead. Not that a thriller which relies mostly on psychological aspect is bad, it's just that Pang's wordy approach is terribly heavy-handed (until there are number of occasions I almost falls asleep watching this movie). If that's not insulting enough, the numerous subplot (Peggy's missing son and especially the one involving the hypnotist grieving over his comatose wife from a tragic car crash) are unnecessary fillers and drags the already long-winded plot even further.
Cast-wise, Angelica Lee does what she can to provide some meaty performance in her otherwise underwritten role. But for all the hard effort she attempts to accomplish, her raven-like striking red hair is so painfully distracting it's hard to take her seriously. The rest of the cast is similarly lackluster, especially a thankless performance by Charlie Young who looks lost throughout the movie. Even a seasoned veteran like Kent Cheng is equally wasted as well.
Avoid this trash at all cost.