On my quest to cover the Dimension Extreme films, I’ve come across some awe inspiring pictures. I’ve also come across a few that did not inspire awe, but a desperate need for suicidal reprieve. The good news is, I think Extreme releases more good pictures than bad, the bad news is: I’m about to cover one of the absolute worst shitheaps of the bunch.
The mysterious “O” (Shinya Tsukamoto, who also wrote and directed the film) is contacted via cell phone by suicidal individuals who wish to die with O, simultaneously. The first victim makes her call, and O lives up to his end of the bargain, plunging a knife into his torso. But before this suicidal young lady can make the Romeo and Juliet impression complete, she’s suddenly attacked by a…semi unseen force. The attack is savage in nature, as the first victim is sliced and diced by some form of evil villain which apparently also induces awkward cinematography. Well, it seems that the entire incident actually took place in this victims dream…
Let me take a breather here, it’s tough to break this film down it’s so damn convoluted...
Okay, so resuming, we now discover that this woman did in fact die by her own hand, and it did in fact happen in her sleep. Fast forward and we see the same twisted scenario befall a handful of victims, as young detective Keiko (Hitomi) Kirishima struggles to solve the baffling case. While this handful of confusing murders/suicides is occurring, we also get to know Kagenuma (Ryuhei Matsuda), to an extent. He’s a disturbed young man who carries a dark past and has the power to enter peoples dreams. Eventually Kagenuma and Keiko’s paths cross, and the young detective realizes she’ll need the young mans help to stop this elusive serial killer.
Where do I even start with this one… Okay first off, there’s not a single moment of clarity within the film. Second, the cinematography is so jumbled it’s nearly impossible to decipher the murder scenes; the camera is absolutely everywhere, and while it’s visually stimulating, it’s stimulating for all the wrong reasons (if you thought THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was tough to deal with…whoa). No one can possibly enjoy the constant sensation of vertigo. The apparently limited amount of set locations becomes annoying real fast, as you can expect practically every dream sequence to occur in damn near the exact spot as the previous, and while a films limitations usually do not particularly bother me, in the case of NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE it really began to crawl under the skin. I could list the cliché visuals you can expect to spot throughout the film, but it’s pointless - we all know what to expect, awkward walkers, long black hair/stains/moisture on the wall etc, etc.
The positives I’ve got for you are pretty brief, but here goes: the acting is impressive. Tsukamoto, Hitomi and Matsuda all prove to be well suited for the genre. All three performances are convincing, and there are haunting elements to each character, for completely separate reasons. The death scenes are fair as well. While not extremely graphic in nature, the intensity with which each victim is disposed of is rather intense, and does leave a lasting impression. At 106 minutes run time, the film drags a bit, but between the unsettling effect of the death scenes and the performances provided by the three key characters, NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE is worth a watch. Two viewings however, would be a stretch.
While you may spot a creepy moment or two, you're more likely to be confused by this film than entertained.