The Sandman (2022) is a perfect combination of fantasy drama and gothic fiction ever directed by seven incredible minds. Having premiered on August 5th, this Netflix TV series has gone on to make its mark, appearing in almost every category of supernatural horror literature known to man; from paranormal fiction to modern folk horror portrayals, action, suspense and a very well-known cast, viewers everywhere can agree that The Sandman Season 1 was a success.
The story begins in 1916 when a nightmare called The Corinthian escapes The Dreaming (a realm humans go to when they sleep) to wreak havoc in the waking world. He lacks eyes of his own, so he kills for the thrill of it, scoops out their eyes, and Morpheus his master, is forced to hunt him down. Having caught up to this nightmare he created, Morpheus attempts to capture the Corinthian, but he himself is kidnapped by an occult British aristocrat who believes him to be Death. This human’s name is Roderick Burgess. He keeps Morpheus (Dream) captive for 100 years, hoping that one day Morpheus will bring his late son back to life.
As a result of being trapped in a glass hub all these years, a sleeping sickness begins around the world that stops people from waking up and allows those who sleep to be tormented by nightmares. Upon Roderick’s death and his eventual escape, an angry Morpheus sets out to punish the humans who contained him and is surprised to see his kingdom in ruins.
Morpheus would do anything to get back his kingdom. He will meet the fates, challenge Lucifer to a duel and fight off a lucid human psychopath just to get back his stolen items. But the challenge will not end there. A dream vortex has been born in his absence, and Morpheus must wrestle with the decision of killing her or allowing her to kill him.
The Sandman was originally created in the late 1980s by award-winning writer Neil Gaiman. It began as a graphic novel first published by DC Comics which lasted from 1989 to 1996. Like most things compared to their earlier versions, the 2022 portrayal of Morpheus the Sandman, co-produced by Neil Gaiman himself, is still the best.
In April this year, it became no secret that alongside the incredible storyline and cast members brought together to make this movie a success, Netflix was also paying through the roof to produce this series. It was reported that Netflix spent no less than 15 million dollars on the series per episode, which amounts to around 165 million dollars for the first season alone. This placed The Sandman above fan favorites like House Of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, Bridgerton, and The Witcher.
The series features well-known actors Tom Sturridge, Boyd Hodrook, Patton Oswalt, and Vivienne Acheampong to play Morpheus, The Corinthian, Lucienne, and Matthew the Raven, respectively.
The only issue with The Sandman is how dark it is. Most of its key scenes occur in places so dark that they overstate the intention for horror. Morpheus’ fight with Lucifer in hell is justifiably shadowed by everyone’s assumption of what hell looks like, but we cannot understand why other important scenes are dim as well. For instance, Morpheus locating Johanna Constantine, the many times he meets Hob Gadling, Desire, and others all happen in the dark. TV adaptations like this, the Blade franchise, and Underworld often appeal to a certain category of gothic viewers and exclude another category.
Dark scenes are meant to portray a form of dread commonly associated with death, fear, and naiveté on the part of victims, but when done too often in the course of an 11-episode series, it can mean that the directors are overcompensating for the absence of the fright, commonly associated with gothic literature. I refuse to believe that things that scare us only happen in the dark. It would be more relatable to see something different in season 2.
The graphic novels consisted of multiple characters because it was tangible – easy to flip back a page and recall who did what or said what. For those streaming The Sandman on Netflix, the list of cast members playing significant roles is confusing. For instance, where the storyline changes at the point when Morpheus locates the dream vortex, we have difficulty understanding whether the first episode still connects to the story.
Morpheus is portrayed as indestructible and must be feared, yet as the superhero in this fantasy story trying to save lives, it would be better appreciated to see him suffer bigger challenges than a temporary loss of his powers and the generic loneliness that comes with being king.