Let’s start from the beginning. We’re introduced to Mary and Charles, a mother and son in one of King’s idyllic 50s towns, but there’s something not quite right about them. They’re strange shape-shifting cat people called sleepwalkers that can turn invisible, change the color of cars, and steal souls Dementor-style. Why? Nobody knows. There’s no explanation for their existence, why they need to shift between cat and human forms, or why their powers have evolved to the point of quick magical car tune-ups. All we get in the way of exposition is a montage of cats throughout history during the opening credits of the film. From the ancient Egyptians to blurry 19th century archival photos, we are reminded that cats do indeed exist and, by extension, have evolved into bizarre vampire creatures? No explanation whatsoever.
I’m halfway through this review but only about 20 minutes into the film. It’s that bad. Good thing there’s not much else to talk about plot-wise so I can spend more time on the hilarity that ensues. Another quick random fact about sleepwalkers: cats are their mortal enemies. Again, no reason, but cats hiss at Charles and Mary whenever they’re near, even in their human forms. They have bear traps lining their yard just for the cats that amass around their little suburban cottage. Turns out that cats cause them to burn and melt like water to The Wicked Witch of the West. So when Charles is in the middle of stealing a cute girl’s soul, who should come to the rescue by a policeman’s cat deputy. Yes, you read that right. The movie’s most charismatic and interesting character is an actual cat that Officer Andy Simpson carries around with him while he does cop things like drive and… What else do cops do in small midwestern towns? More questions that Sleepwalkers leaves unanswered.
Clovis the Cat, on the other hand, has better things to do than play with the Officer’s squeaky toys. He’s got to kick some sleepwalker ass. In one of the most clumsily shot monster-attack scenes in horror film history, Charles the tries to eat his classmate’s soul, but just in the nick of time, the cop drives by and Clovis leaps onto Charlie with a RA-ROWL!!, bringing him to his knees and nearly killing him. At this point, the movie becomes a revenge pic starring Charlie’s mother as she tries to kill everyone involved with her son’s mutilation. The rest of the movie features more cheesy dialogue, incompetent cops, and a mob of over one hundred cats rushing in to save the day. A guy gets stabbed to death with an ear of corn. It’s hilarious. I usually don’t pull any punches when it comes to spoilers, but this is one I highly recommend you check out yourself just to see the ridiculous lengths this film goes to.
To summarize: incestuous cat-people eat souls and stalk high school girls while actual cats try to stop them for no clear reason. Is this really what we expect from the man who brought us the tragic story of the telepathic prom queen? Could the author who so beautifully told the story of a man trying to cope with prison life really stoop this low? In order to keep my respect for Stephen King at a normal level, I like to imagine that some producer came in and made him cut out all of the parts that, you know, make sense in order to focus on the things that really matter: cat uprisings and corn murders.