There’s definitely some technical promise on show in Writer/Director Liam Banks’ Sandman. Given it’s such a small cast and crew, that’s a fair accomplishment. Perhaps it’s the sleep based title and the post slumber setting, but the effects in Sandman bring to mind those in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Nightmarish imagery of blood running down walls and one particularly nice shot of it running down a picture frame, appearing from nowhere but its top edge, are good. The restraint is appreciated too, as these are only shown in very quick edits towards the end. It would’ve been all too tempting and obvious to linger on special effects as pretty as those.
The Sandman himself also benefits from well done effects work. One image of him suspended in a stairway, large green eyes staring, occasionally blinking like a particularly diseased aye aye, is arresting. When he’s shown outside the house in plain view view under the street light he’s also unsettling. A naked man standing outside your window would be an undoubtedly scary experience. Unfortunately this is lost when he starts making the typical, cliched ‘oooh I’m a scary night ghoulie’ movements, wiggling his arms and wobbling about like one of those fan powered men you see in used car dealership forecourts. He begins to suffer from a case of Man in Pants syndrome, similar to recently reviewed A Familiar Spirit.
Same story, sadly, for story. It’s typical and cliched supernatural night-creeper territory that plagues the short film arena at the moment, complete with the suburban house setting, lone mute female in her PJs and oh so rote jump scare ending. When you realise just what the film is going to be, you’re able to set your watch by it. Even the effects, technically nice as they are, aren’t attempts to depict anything new or of interest. We’ve seen this short a million and one times before. The effects are polished but everything else is a bust.