Halloween is today and I have found a real gem for some midnight viewing. Spoilers!
This serial killer film comes as something of a relief after two months of kaidan. Nightmare Detective was directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, he of Tetsuo (1988) fame, a film that instantly earned him comparisons with David Cronenberg due to its body horror. I first watched that film late at night as a teenager and was left dazed and disturbed. The comparison to Cronenberg is well deserved as Tetsuo is packed a visceral and psychic punch. I next watched Vital (2004) in a cinema and was left dazzled by the beauty but bemused at the modern dance sequences. Nightmare Detective is the first film Tsukamoto film that I have watched since Vital and I loved it.
Kagenuma (Ryuhei Matsuda) is the titular nightmare detective. He can enter dreams, hear thoughts and read peoples’ subconscious. It is a gift that he hates having because the dreams he enters and the thoughts he read reveal “disgusting things”. He will be immersed in them as a killer stalks the streets. We get a sense of this when we join a woman who is on her mobile phone arranging her suicide with a mysterious man who stabs… himself. She ends up being chased by a “force” and torn to pieces. This is the first of a series of suspicious suicides that leave the police puzzled. A link surfaces when they find that the victims called a person named O (Shinya Tsukamoto). Keiko Kirishima (Hitomi) is a new member of the homicide squad and feels she has to prove herself. Her fellow veteran homicide detective Sekiya (Ren Osugi) is sceptical about her abilities but she has the support of a young detective named Wakamiya (Masanobu Ando). Kirishima becomes increasingly obsessed with the case increasingly convinced that the mysterious 0 can control minds but feels belittled when she’s asked to get the suicidal dream reader involved in her case.
I’m a sucker for these stories: explorations of dreams and the subconscious, detectives facing twisted psychologies, existentialist takes on modern life – Cure and Inception are two titles I love. Nightmare Detective joins them.