The general concept of the film is familiar (see Nightmare on Elm Street) but this variation of the ‘death by dream’ scenario is somewhat more confusing. Having first screened this film at last year’s Toronto After Dark festival, I hoped a second viewing would be clearer.
The title character (Ryuhei Matsuda) has the ability to enter and exit other people’s dreams at will and but does so because he is compelled to not because he wants to do it. When people begin dying horrible bloody deaths in their sleep, it would seem someone else has this special ability. A young female police detective (Hitomi) asks the nightmare detective for help and he reluctantly takes the case.
The film is very darkly lit and the dream sequences are weird but not aesthetically different from the conscious world, as it’s said the two interact regularly. The victims' blood flows freely and the effect of wounds spontaneously appearing is done well.
The DVD includes an almost hour-long “making of” feature, which outlines each step in director/star’s Shinya Tsukamoto’s production process.
Nightmare Detective is a decent film that plays with an old idea but the lack of clarity (and thus time spent trying to decipher what happened) at the end subtracts a little from its enjoyment.