Genre: Low-budget Sci-Fi/Psycho Horror
review in one breath
One expects a sort of "double-whammy" from Long Dream. On the one hand it is based on an Ito Junji manga, and on the other hand, Long Dream is directed by Higuchinsky (aka Higuchi Akihiro), who is otherwise held in great reverence for his unparalleled recreation of another Ito manga, Uzumaki.
But Ito's manga have been notoriously difficult to do well on film, and perhaps Uzumaki was a strange, delightful aberration. (Though Shibito no Koiwazurai was also very good.) And although Long Dream delivers much of the creativity implicit in Ito's work, the film overall does not possess the strange ambiance and narrative force audiences tasted in Uzumaki.
The premise itself is indeed interesting and somewhat mind-bending. Tatsuro Mukoda (Kashiwabara Shuuji) checks himself into a hospital convinced that his dreams are becoming increasingly longer. Although Tatsuro wakes within an average 24 hour period, his dreaming state to him appears to last 10, 100, 500 years, so long that he has all but forgotten the previous "day". This prolonged dreaming not only begins to change Tatsuro's language and mannerisms, but also his physical form as he dreams himself into progressively longer eons. When Tatsuro eventually enters what appears to be an infinite dream, Dr Kuroda (Horiuchi Masami), who has been observing Tatsuro throughout, discovers a unknown substance which he soon experiments with on himself and Mami Takashima (Tsugumi) an unsuspecting patient. Whether through sheer exhaustion or exposure to the new substance, Kuroda begins having increasingly vivid visions of Kana Sakurai (Hatsune Eriko), Kuroda's former lover who committed suicide for him when a scandal threatened his career. In a final letter to Kuroda, Kana had sworn that she would not pass into death, but would be waiting for Kuroda in the land of dreams.
This plot and its strange resolution comes, of course, from Ito's creative and often nightmarish vision. Cinematically, however, Higuchinsky is unable to add much to the potential bizarreness of this project. There is the rather cool bug-eyed transformation of Tatsuro and the characteristic colored back lights throughout the film, but very little of this coalesces into anything convincing or compelling. Unlike some other made-for-TV productions, this one really shows itself to be such in both performance and visuals.
The nightmarish ending of Long Dream is in many ways very similar to that of Shibito no Koiwazurai where it was accomplished in a much more effective and dramatic fashion. It seems that Long Dream had a lot of potential given its writer and director. But it was not to be, and the chemistry so apparent in Uzumaki utterly fails to appear here.
I still believe this is worth viewing, if not simply for more exposure to the strange worlds Ito can concoct. Just be sure to bring lowered expectations along with your popcorn.
|The cultural interest here is in viewing a Higuchinsky/Ito production.||One scissor-induced death which results in an otherwise white room being spray-painted bright red. Some bizarre sci-fi effects.||ZERO. But the cute Eriko Hatsune does one million sexy pirouettes with her red parasol.||A very cool and mind-bending premise, and a really bug-eyed victim of oversleeping. However, I sadly admit this was a disappointment. (and yes, I even watched this a second time after imbibing the requisite amount of rice wine.)|