From executive producer Stan Lee, The Sandman takes shape on SyFy as an original for-tv horror flick that lives up to the expectations of a for-tv horror flick. Not to be confused with the Marvel character created by the comic book legend, The Sandman is a vicious murdering supernatural entity made entirely of sand.
Written and directed by Peter Sullivan, The Sandman invites us to witness a familiar premise. A mysterious murderer and a frightened young girl with elements of the supernatural woven through like scaffolding to create a tonally classic horror flick.
Madison (Shae Smolik) is a vulnerable young girl who is seeing and being emotionally tortured by a figure made of sand, which can collapse and enter rooms through keyholes and assume a towering figure that can mould its arms into bladed weapons. Naturally, The Sandman goes on a killing spree.
Whilst establishing the premise, The Sandman introduces us to the family dynamic of young Madison; her father is murdered and she is temporarily institutionalised due to her erratic behaviour that is, unbeknownst to anyone, caused by The Sandman. Later, she is taken in by her Aunt Claire (Haylie Duff). Madison struggles to explain her visions and nightmares of The Sandman and her Aunt Claire obliviously dismisses her. Meanwhile, Claire struggles with social services who suggest she may not be well-equipped to permanently care for Madison.
The Sandman takes cues from classic films of the horror genre by utilising jump-scares, empty-hallways and abandoned hospitals; it retreads plot points seen in the genre many times over. However, the crisp and well-lit cinematography with a dynamic performance from Shae Smolik makes The Sandman feel fresh and captivating.
Furthermore, Madison is not only being haunted by The Sandman but she has psychic abilities, the horror flick really kicks into gear. Claire finds herself fighting multiple battles as she tries to exorcise the demon whilst protecting her from the government operatives looking to kidnap, experiment and ultimately harness her powers for their own purposes.
The Sandman truly shines the longer Claire and Madison are on-screen. Their relationship grows closer whilst the outside world tries to rip them apart. This is complimented well by their antagonist, played by horror veteran Tobin Bell, who leads the charge to kidnap Madison.
Despite an otherwise cohesive and intriguing plot, the final act lets the movie down as it feels a little anti-climatic given the captivating suspense of the build-up. However, for a tv horror flick, The Sandman is better than most and worth a watch, if even just for Shae Smolik’s performance as a vulnerable yet cold and disturbed young girl as she shows great signs for a bright career ahead of her.
You can catch the premiere of The Sandman on October 14th, 2017 at 9pm on SyFy. Images courtesy of SyFy.