DVD Review: ‘Thorne: Sleepyhead’ starring David Morrissey

by W. Andrew Powell
David Morrisey and Aidan Gillen in Thorne: Sleepyhead

David Morrisey and Aidan Gillen in Thorne: Sleepyhead

David Morrisey and Aidan Gillen in Thorne: Sleepyhead

Starring: David Morrissey, Eddie Marsan, Aidan Gillen, Natascha McElhone, Sara Lloyd-Gregory
Director: Stephen Hopkins

Rated: 8/10

From the United Kingdom comes Thorne: Sleepyhead, a modern and disturbingly realistic mystery about a sharp detective hunting for a serial killer that reminds him all too clearly of one of his early investigations that went terribly wrong.

David Morrissey stars as detective inspector Tom Thorne, a brilliant officer trying to find a serial killer who has killed three women so far. Drugging the victims in a way that causes terrible strokes, Thorne believes he could solve the case thanks to Alison, played by Sara Lloyd-Gregory, a victim who has survived the killer’s torture, but is suffering from “locked-in” syndrome, which has rendered her unable to move, speak, or even blink.

As Thorne delves into the case, everything begins to remind him of one of his own first cases that haunts him to this day–something so terrible that it remains a secret that only his best friend knows about and has helped him cover up for all these years.

Featuring a remarkable cast that includes the darkly brilliant Morrissey, to Eddie Marsan as Kevin Tughan, Aidan Gillen as Phil Hendricks, and Californication‘s Natascha McElhone as Anne Coburn, Thorne: Sleepyhead digs down into the fringes of reality to tell a really powerful, terrifying story.

Compared to the dull, brain-dead procedural cop shows that have been spawned over the years, especially in the United States, Thorne: Sleepyhead is something else entirely, and shows its roots in the long history of great British mysteries. It’s a taste of the detective thrillers of the seventies and eighties, but with modern style and sensibilities.

Director Stephen Hopkins, known for television’s 24 and Californication, evokes a lot of power from the tale, and he wrings emotion from every scene with the fresh camera style that looks like we’re watching a crime in progress. That style even makes you wonder who might be in on the crimes, including the detectives themselves.

Additionally, the scenes with Alison are especially eerie since she can’t speak to Thorne, but we can hear her, and we know how scared she is, what she’s thinking and feeling. This risky concept could have backfired terribly, but Hopkins helps us feel like we truly know Alison, which makes her story all the more brutal.

Featuring emotive editing to help tell this sad and incredibly intense story, Thorne: Sleepyhead is a bit too long, despite the fact that it keeps the mystery going strong until the end. I could have even imagined trimming twenty minutes off the total two-hour running time. Some of the clues are also a little too obvious along the way, but even with those clues, I think the ending will surprise most people.

For mystery fans, and fans of original U.K. mysteries, Thorne: Sleepyhead is entirely satisfying, and will hopefully feed even more interest in great mysteries. We can likely also expect a lot more from Thorne since a new series is being planned for some time in 2012.

Thorne Sleeyhead DVD

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