Movie Review: The Sandman (2017)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2017 thriller starring Haylie Duff and Tobin Bell.

Synopsis: After her brother, a suspected serial killer, is found dead, Claire takes custody of her young niece, Madison. Madison, however, has a dark secret. She has powerful psychic powers and has the ability to conjure the Sandman, a murderous creature from her nightmares that will harm anyone who threatens her.

Who's In It?


It was still relatively early after my wife and I caught up on last night's episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, so I looked for a movie for us to watch. I picked this one mostly because I recognized some of the names, but didn't really know what to expect when we started watching it. Unfortunately, it just wasn't that good.

I'll start out by saying I though Shae Smolik did an awesome job as Madison. Her fear over her nightmare monster and what it could do to people seemed very believable. It's just too bad the rest of the movie didn't do her justice.

I think the biggest problem with this film is the overall premise. Normally, a scary monster from a nightmare world would offer a good horror movie foundation. However, when that monster only appears to protect a little girl from people who want to harm her, it kind of loses something.

As a result of this, the film just never reached a point where I could consider it scary or even remotely suspenseful. How am I supposed to be scared of a monster who is technically the good guy? It wasn't even a case of the monster inadvertently hurting people because it misunderstood their intentions. Its victims had it coming.

The more I think about it, the more I think the monster wasn't even necessary. OK, they would have had to change the title, but Madison's powerful psychic abilities, combined with a lack of emotional control, would have been a better story had the film just focused on that aspect. A young child with the ability to accidentally turn her guardian to dust during a tantrum might have had me on the edge of my seat.

Also not helping was some extremely unemotional acting. As I said, Smolik did great but everyone else really seemed to be phoning it in. This is especially true of Duff, who honestly seemed to be a bit bored (almost as bored as I was getting). Strong acting can sometimes save a weak script. Weak acting will ruin even a potentially great movie and this film was nowhere close to being great.

Final Opinion

Some movies ruin a good plot with bad execution. This movie had a plot that couldn't be saved even with great execution. It's just not worth watching.

My Grade: F

Updated: 01/08/2021, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 01/16/2021

StevenHelmer, Previously, when I read this article, I left my vote but no comment. I respect your and your wife's critiques so I won't be purchasing this. But it stays with me your recommendation that "A young child with the ability to accidentally turn her guardian to dust during a tantrum might have had me on the edge of my seat" so I'm just letting you all know that that's a great idea and sent me laughing away from this visit, for the second time now with this re-visit.

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