The first sci-fi-heavy effort from Blumhouse Productions, that mighty machine of menace that brought you the Paranormal Activity pictures, the film focuses on the Barrett family. Lacy (Keri Russell, TV’s The Americans) is a Realtor; Daniel (Josh Hamilton, J. Edgar) is an architect, but currently unemployed in the midst of the Great Recession. Because of this, the couple is underwater on its mortgage.
In other words, more stress is the least thing the Barretts need, but it arrives when their youngest child (newcomer Kadan Rockett) reports seeing “the Sandman” in his room at night. That could explain the inexplicable nocturnal events that take place under their roof, from a geometric structure built in the kitchen to all the family photos vanishing from their frames.
Writer/director Scott Stewart (Priest, Legion) finally breaks free of angels and Paul Bettany to deliver an imminently watchable tale that, while predictable, proves creepy. If it never quite steps into scare territory, it manages to yield a couple of solid jolts, and rather swiftly.
Plus, it’s always nice to see the unconventional Russell land a lead. Bonus: J.K. Simmons (Up in the Air) has a small role as an amateur researcher who dresses like Hunter S. Thompson. —Rod Lott