The Sandman – A Stan Lee Horror Film Just In Time for Halloween
The Sandman is an original horror film executive produced by Stan Lee along with Gill Champion, Barry Barnholtz (Leprechaun), and Jeffrey Schenck (Finders Keepers, The Crooked Man). It’s written and directed by Peter Sullivan (Ominous, Summoned).
The SyFy network has gone through a stylistic renaissance in recent years, increasing their production values and overall quality of their original content like their glory days during Battlestar Galactica. The Sandman continues that trend, offering an eerie ambiance and mysterious cold opening that grips you immediately. The whole film is atmospheric and visually well crafted.
The main character, Madison, is an intriguing protagonist played by Shae Smolik, who is perfect for the role. The “creepy child” cliche is something I’ve talked about a lot in the horror genre (see: EIGHT 80’s Films To Watch Before Stranger Things Season 2) and she manages to straddle that line between unnerving, but also adorable and sympathetic. She reminds me of other psychic children from other genre films such as Allie from Taken or Charlie from Firestarter. She’s perhaps a tad more innocent than Allie, who seems all knowing even as a child. Madison doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on with herself or even be able to control her powers.
The film has several other hallmarks of the genre, including nefarious clandestine government agencies (similar to Firestarter or Stranger Things), a peaceful suburban home thrown into supernatural chaos (Poltergeist), and an other-worldly monster whose design is beyond distrubing (I am going to have nightmares). If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll enjoy these elements weaved together in a new narrative.
It’s also wonderful to see a woman dominated led cast in the genre. Like Poltergeist and Firestarter, it centers on a little girl, but when she goes to live with her aunt it becomes a woman led narrative that reminds me of Silent Hill. Women can be badass and save the day, too. In this case, the hero is a fiercely independent woman who wasn’t aiming to be a mother figure, but took on the role and tried her best when tasked to take care of her niece. She’s not perfect, but perfection isn’t the goal when it comes to writing dynamic female characters. Her flaws are part of what makes her real.
If you’re looking for films to get in the mood for the holiday, The Sandman is an excellent place to start.
The summary of the film is as follows:
Eight year old ‘Madison’ (Shae Smolik) who, when her father is found dead, goes to live with her aunt ‘Claire’ (Haylie Duff), a struggling artist in a nearby city. It isn’t long before Claire realizes that the young girl has unusual powers, including the ability to manifest a frightening boogeyman she calls “The Sandman.” Claire quickly begins to suspect that the Sandman might be responsible not only for the death of Madison’s father, but many other victims across the country.
The Sandman stars Tobin Bell (the Saw films), Shaun Sipos (The Vampire Diaries, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Final Destination 2), Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Ricco Ross (Aliens), stars Haylie Duff (Napoleon Dynamite, Material Girls), and Shae Smolik (Play by Play, Trafficked).
The Sandman premiered on SyFy on October 14th. Did you miss the premiere? Don’t worry. It will continue airing every few days leading up to Halloween. Check out SyFy’s schedule here.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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