Dario Argento's latest feature marks the director's return to the celebrated Giallo film - a stylized murder/mystery sub-genre, in which elaborate and artfully rendered killings are set to a pulsating music score, and numerous red herrings abound.
A successful throwback to the director's much-loved seventies mysteries, "Sleepless" deserved a proper theatrical run, but regrettably is only available in this weak DVD release. The disc's greatest disappointment is the full frame presentation, and though originally photographed in widescreen (and available in that format overseas on video), Ronnie Taylor's moody lensing and compositions are often unnaturally tight, with obvious details disappearing a few inches beyond the screen. Artisan's transfer merely lops off the frame's outer sides, and for the film's End Credit roll, the frame suddenly snaps to widescreen - with black beams appearing where the widescreen edges are supposed to be.
Where the label does do right is in presenting the film's sound mix in 5.1, allowing Goblin's pulsating score to heighten Argento's extensive murder sequences - particularly the unrelenting train chase at the beginning. The film's overall cinematography is somewhat dark, though Argento's diverse colour palette - ranging from Bavaesque primary colours to rich earth tones - register well.
The disc's extras are rudimentary filmographies of the primary cast members and director, a video trailer, and 4 video promos for current Artisan releases. Until a planned 2-disc UK release of "Sleepless," with many extras, it seems North American Argento fans will once again have to settle for a mediocre presentation, complete with unrelated cover art that resembles an unused campaign from Artisan's own "Book of the Shadows: Blair Witch 2" DVD.
© 2001 Mark R. Hasan
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