THE SLEEPER (2011) Reviews of retro slasher

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‘If I die before I wake’
The Sleeper is a 2011 [released 2012] American slasher horror film written, photographed, edited, co-produced and directed by Justin Russell (Bong of the Living DeadDeath Stop Holocaust; The Gremlin). The Gamma Knife Films production stars Ali Ferda, Paul Moon, Eric Sarich, and in a cameo role, Jessica Cameron.

In 1979, a giggling man with milky white eyes (credited as “The Sleeper”) breaks into a bedroom in the Alpha Gamma Theta sorority house in the middle of the night, killing a resident with a hammer.

Two years later, the sorority is organising a party to welcome new pledges, an event that prompts the return of the Sleeper, who has been living on the campus in secret, spying on the Alpha Gamma Thetas, and threatening them over the phone…

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“The lack of a motive or explanation makes it less of what could be a perfect homage to the creepiness and unease of the original Black Christmas. With a senseless killer, it’s just trying too hard to be so. And I find that it’s actually missing that little unique something that could make it grand, and replacing it with too many in-your-face 80’s references!” Bloody Disgusting

“The film manages to move at a brisk clip (filmed during the Winter season), but everything on screen is just deja-vu all over again. While the gore is handled pretty well (especially Cindy’s graphic face smashing and the eyes on Stacy’s [obviously fake] decapitated head still moving back and forth, looking at her headless body), there is little else to recommend.” Critical Condition

” …it gets everything right: the pacing, the atmosphere, the settings… Russell nails it. Here’s a guy who understands the slasher film, and I look forward to his next outing as a result” Dread Central

“The atmosphere is good, the acting is tolerable, a few nice violent death scenes, and some great cinematography (there is some actual depth to the shots). The only thing that I consider to be bad is that the 80’s style that Justin was going for became too much and basically stood out from the rest of the movie instead of helping to blend everything together.” Film Bizarro

“You won’t often forget that it was low budget (30 grand, much less than most of the films it honors even before you factor in inflation), but it moves well, has some nice scares, a variety of kills (he favors a hammer, but an axe and some rope get some play), and a very likable heroine in Brittany Belland, who is refreshingly not mousy (she’s the one who urges her friend to go to the sorority party) and has a great scream.” Horror Movie a Day

“Amazingly the only characters that have any real defining roles and any emotional attachment are killed off-screen. This leads me to believe that The Sleeper is actually a string of death scenes wrapped up in a second-hand storyline, which in itself is nothing new and so can’t be criticised for it. Maybe this is it’s homage to the 80s slasher; the misogynistic ‘bad’ ones like Pieces and Slumber Party Massacre.” Horror Talk

” …homage to a certain type of 1980s slasher film – in specific, the sorority house slaughter. We even get a cheap John Carpenter-soundalike score. Russell provides mostly clothed sex scenes among the co-eds and a liberal degree of cheap gore. Beyond that, there is not much to The Sleeper.” Moria

“Tries to come off as a throwback to ’80s slashers, but mostly duplicates the faults that ruin films of any decade. Poorly acted, completely illogical, and with the worst line dancing since The Howling: New Moon Rising.” Splatter Critic

“The death scenes were cheesy, the acting is wooden and we never do find anything out about any characters. There are no backstories,, we have no idea why The Sleeper is killing or indeed who the hell he is, but that’s fine – I don’t want to know and I don’t care. If you love or have any knowledge of slasher films from the late 70’s to the early 80’s then The Sleeper is a massive recommend.” UK Horror Scene

“The dismal IMDb rating of The Sleeper is reflective of a generation used to frenetic edits, silicone-clad babes and exposition from an audience who say they want retro slasher films and then moan when they get one. I would say that the film does play like one of the less ‘classic’ examples of the era to which it pertains, somewhat subtracting from its appeal in the grand scheme of things.” Vegan Voorhees

Cast and characters:

  • Brittany Belland as Amy
  • E. Ray Goodwin as Detective Drake
  • Jason Jay Crabtree as The Sleeper
  • Elizabeth Lane as June
  • Jenna Fournier as Laura
  • Riana Ballo as Stacy
  • Jessica Cameron as Cindy
  • Tiffany Arnold as Rebecca
  • Ali Ferda as Ava
  • Kendra Stevenson as First Sister
  • Beverly Kristy as Miss Joy
  • Paul Moon as Bobby
  • Eric Sarich as Derek
  • Aaron Russell as Matt Matheson
  • Joe Bob Briggs as Doctor Briggs [cameo role by film critic]


The Sleeper was filmed in Springfield, Ohio, over thirteen days in February 2011.

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