Sleeping with the Devil (1997) Tim Matheson, Shannen Doherty, Bonnie Bartlett, Steve Eastin, David Bowe, Kate McNeil, Vince Grant Movie Review

Sleeping with the Devil (1997)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Shannen Doherty in Sleeping with the Devil (1997)

Strang Goes Strange

Rebecca Dubrovich (Shannen Doherty - Growing the Big One) likes to keep busy, be it her job, her studies or her training for a triathlon as when she isn't keeping busy she thinks to four years earlier when following the home coming parade she was raped. It is whilst out running that she meets Dick Strang (Tim Matheson - An Unfinished Affair) who is not only charming but he makes her feel safe. Even after she discovers that Dick had lied to her about being married she ends up going back to him following his divorce. But soon she discovers that Dick is not at all what he seems to be as he shows his controlling side and turns violent, putting Rebecca's life in danger.

I've always enjoyed watching true story movies but some true stories transfer to the screen better than others, they manage to keep the feeling of being a true story rather than some drama concocted at a screen-writers desk. "Sleeping with the Devil" unfortunately whilst based on a true story ends up partly feeling like one of those manufactured dramas and it plays out as such for the first half of the movie. The storyline which sees a young woman unwittingly in a relationship with a violent and controlling man is a surprisingly gripping one thanks to both the performances of Tim Matheson and Shannen Doherty. And then it evolves as the heart of true story seems to take over.

Tim Matheson in Sleeping with the Devil (1997)

So as I mentioned "Sleeping with the Devil" whilst based on a true story plays out initially like a well thought out drama, maybe that is not the case for those aware of the true story but for those like me who are not the first half lacks that true story power. But as I said it works well as a drama about a woman who ends up falling for a charming man who turns out to be anything but charming as his nasty side begins to show when his wife divorces him. I'm not going to go in to a lot of detail but we see how he hates not having things his way and turns exceptionally nasty towards Rebecca.

There is a lot more to "Sleeping with the Devil" than just this but for those unaware of the true story all I shall say is the story evolves so that whilst we have the evilness of Dick we also have the inspirational story of Rebecca who refuses to accept her situation. As I said it is well written and almost feels like two movies rolled into one, this thriller storyline about the relationship and then Rebecca's courageous story filling up the second half.

What for me makes "Sleeping with the Devil" are the two central performances. Shannen Doherty makes Rebecca a likeable character, giving her both innocence and vulnerability which lets us warm to her and yes that means champion her during the second half. But then there is Tim Matheson as Dick and it is a chilling performance from Matheson bringing to life a very evil creation, obsessive in winning and malicious when it comes to having things his way.

What this all boils down to is that "Sleeping with the Devil" is a good movie but it is one which for the first half feels like a drama concocted on a writers desk followed by an inspirational story which is actually quite touching.