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NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE (Akumu tantei) (Japanese)
  Publicity Stills of "Nightmare Detective"
(Courtesy from GV)

In Japanese with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Cast: Ryuhei Matsuda, hitomi, Masanobu Ando
RunTime: 1 hr 46 mins
Released By: GVP & Festive Films
Rating: M18
Official Website: http://www.festivefilms.com/nightmare

Opening Day: 19 April 2007

Synopsis :

A Japanese detective investigates two mysterious suicides, somehow connected as the two victims dialed "0" on their mobiles moments before their death. The detective comes to learn of a man who has the supposed ability to manipulate people's dreams, and if the case is going to be solved, the detective succumbs to the realization that she must dial the mysterious "0" herself...

Movie Review:

Nightmare Detective is an atmospheric fantasy film that has a villain who seemed to have jumped straight out of an X-Files episode. It's about dreams, alternate realities and worked around the topic of suicides in Japan. Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto who also had a role in the film, those familiar with the director's works will come to expect that this will not be your usual run-of-the-mill thriller.

The Nightmare Detective (Ryuhei Matsuda) is a John Constantine equivalent, only that instead of having the ability to traverse through Hell and back, he has the power to travel to anyone's dreams, analyze them, to hear the thoughts of man, or inflict pain from the bringing back of memories, just like how The Crow does it. Except that the Nightmare Detective feels cursed at his uncanny abilities, and is constantly seeking a way to end his suffering. A pained, suicidal hero, now that's something refreshing, though his dream world alter ego existence might ring similar to Freddie on Nightmare of Elm Street.

Leggy J-pop singer Hitomi is the main star of the show, despite the title suggesting otherwise. As rookie field detective Keiko Kirishima, she's the wide-eyed inductee to investigative homicide police work, and her first cases involve the peculiar deaths of victims who dialed "0" on their mobile phones just moments before their demise. Unwilling to classify the case simply as suicides, she seeks to investigate into the seemingly implausible circumstances of their deaths, and tried to enlist the help of the Nightmare Detective. But like passionate, driven detectives willing to put their lives on the line, Keiko offers herself as bait and calls "0",
following in the footsteps of the victims, and opening up her dreams to access, hoping that the Nightmare Detective will play the reluctant saviour.

Sounds like a perverse Ringu, with the mobile phone as a replacement for the video tape. In fact, the introductory scene to the Nightmare Detective character was classic J-horror at its best, coupled with nifty special effects. But unless you pay close attention, you'll be trapped in a myriad of dreams within dreams, alternating worlds, and the likes. Some scenes become repetitive, some became unintentionally funny, and Hitomi's scared look really dominated the screen, somewhat bringing an added dimension in itself through her bug-eyed, frightened facial expressions. Ryuhei Matsuda carries a pained look throughout, neither feeling supreme over his abilities, and always feeling like the wrong guy thrust with responsibilities he does not wish to have.

Depending on how receptive you are towards the fantasy thriller genre, you might find Nightmare Detective either mind blowing in its treatment and technique, or prefer to see it as a mix-mash, beating around the bush of an investigative supernatural tale, with a possibility of a sequel already built in. As a word of caution, you might want to bring along a bag or two in case you throw up from too much shaky camera movements.

Movie Rating:

(Possibly a kick-start to the faltering popularity of J-horror, Nightmare Detective demonstrates potential still left to be milked)

Review by Stefan Shih

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