Friday, November 20, 2015

Doctor Who: "Sleep No More" Review

Doctor Who finally succumbs to the found-footage genre in "Sleep No More."

*Spoilers Ahead*
"Sleep No More" opens in a unique fashion as the audience is shown, what is essentially, "Found-Footage" narrated by a man named Rassmussen. Assuming that everyone reading has seen the episode, let's move on from the summary. 

This week's monsters are the "Sandmen," creatures that come from the "sleep dust" that builds up in your eyes every night. How exactly the Sandmen came from the Morpheus sleep pod is vague. Does that imply that if a comatose patient never had his or her eyes wiped, the sleep dust would turn into a monster? Or did the machine create lifeforms that feed off of the "sleep"? Regardless, the reason for the monsters is a bit on the absurd side; however, they are creepy and deliver the thrills. 
This is the first time in franchise history that an episode opened with a title card like this.
Capaldi and Coleman do not seem to have much to do this episode. But, usual, they are excellent together. The episode's supporting cast of characters was decent, albeit not exactly memorable. The idea of Indo-Japan is an interesting one, and "the Great Catastrophe" is said to refer to what happened in Season 21 serial "Frontios." The concept of Morpheus is also an interesting one, and while the reasoning behind the creatures is vague, exploring the concept of a society that does not have to sleep is fascinating.

Director, Justin Molotnikov, does a fine job at using the found-footage style to create a unique and creepy Doctor Who adventure. Certain moments would have benefited from a higher degree of tension, but what we got was good enough. The atmosphere of the episode is another highlight as it reminded me of the disturbing Bioshock video game series with its use of the "Mr. Sandman" song. 

My only issue is that the episode is also related to one of its strongest aspects. It is revealed that the footage the audience is viewing can be accessed by the Doctor, and we discover that there are no helmet cameras. In fact, the footage is coming from people's eyes of those that used Morpheus, as well as the dust floating in the air. If I am not mistaken, there is at least one shot where we see from the Doctor's perspective, and he said that should be not necessarily possible. Of course, I could be mistaken, but it was strange. Otherwise, the concept of footage being available to characters in the story is a fun twist on the norm.

In the end, it turns out Rassmussen is actually recording this entire adventure to spread the Morpheus signal across the galaxy. The final scene with Rassmussen falling apart into sand is brilliantly executed and incredibly creepy. Series 9 has been lacking truly creepy moments, and at least this episode delivered one of those. Unfortunately, the ending is a bit of a mess as it makes little sense.

One thing that confuses me is how or even if, the next episode is the second half of the story. Every story is said to be two-parters, but this one left on a strange note, so we will have to see how the episodes tie together.

Overall: 7.5/10- Utilizing a found-footage style that is new to the franchise, "Sleep No More" tells a unique story, albeit it one riddled with confusing moments. 

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  1. Weakest of the season so far and one of Capaldi's weakest overall. Word is, Gatiss has been asked to write a sequel. Sigh.

    1. While I would not say the weakest, it wasn't one of the best ones for sure. But it had its interesting moments. Not sure what to expect from the idea a sequel to this though.



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