Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
What's it about
A killer stalks Japanese people who want to commit suicide, leaving a new female detective and a creepy psychic to save the day by stopping the madness.
Is it good movie?
Nightmare Detective is one of those horror movies that attempts the near impossible balance between gore, tension and light comedy, something many films strive for but few accomplish. At the same time, itís yet another Japanese flick that becomes lost in a world of dreams and gore. Itís a little like Nightmare on Elm Street, and a little like the Grudge, and a little like Seven. Yes, itís a little like a lot of stuff as only about 252 movies have covered the same ground, leaving a feeling of rehashed material. However, the initial concept creates a good hook as a shrived outcast psychic enters into peopleís dreams to explore what makes them tick, or what makes them not tick very effectively. Heís a detective of sorts, though he looks like a heroin junky thatís become tortured from all his Vulcan mind melds. The film starts with him in a clientís mind, only to fail to bring him back to reality. At the same time, a killer stalks potential suicide victims and offs them before they can do it themselves. That doesnít make a lot of sense typed out, but itís the sort of plot one doesnít question.
Nightmare Detective is a movie that I waver back and forth on. Certain elements I dug. Others I did not. I think I enjoyed the humor between the detectives, but honestly, reading subtitles or listening to the English dub doesnít do it justice as the language issue becomes a problem. On the other hand, one of the most ridiculous elements comes from the killer stalking suicide victims. Itís tough to feel sorry for characters who planned to kill themselves in the first place, only to have a noise distract them. And though they hoped for death only moments before, they start to run for their lives and scream bloody murder. Really? Why wouldnít they beg for it? Why wouldnít they challenge the entity and say, ďBring it on, bitch.Ē Of course, it could be the director hoping to bring on a discussion of suicide and that these characters only yearn for attention. Perhaps, but it either wasnít clear or I just missed it. Also, the characters donít take the idea of death all too seriously. They talk as if itís an afternoon chore, not the ending of their life. If the director had hoped that the humor would add something, it failed as it makes the characters lives seem cheap and unworthy, not something one wants.
While I found the balance of the script off, I did enjoy director Tsukamotoís visuals. He effectively creates an eerie atmosphere and does a wonderful job with the invisible killer. It reminds of the classic Evil Dead style with fast zooms and a moaning from the unknown beast through the first person perspective. Also, if one hopes for good gore, Nightmare Detective does deliver there.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen presentation for ye.
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital. Choose either Japanese or the English dub, which is as bad as dubs get.
The Making of Nightmare Detective: An hour long doc that goes into every aspect of the film. Itís great and gives good insight into the story, characters and process. Director Tsukamoto shows off not only his intellect, but personality as well.
Nightmare Detective is corny and grotesque, but only mildly successful; thereís just plenty of better movies out there. While some will be tempted as Nightmare Detective comes through Dimensionís new line of Extreme films, Iíve seen more extreme stuff than this. And better.