This seems to be the year for transgressive Japanese auteurs to inflict brain damage on larger mainstream audiences, because, like Sion Sono has done with Exte, visionary cult filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo, Tokyo Fist, A Snake of June) has committed one of the most shocking acts of his famously subversive career –- he’s made a wide-release studio film! As with Sono’s film, Tsukamoto’s version of a mainstream feature is miles from conventional cinema, scorched by its author’s unique voice, and offering its audience a kaleidoscope of atypical concepts, sights and sounds.
Kyoichi Kagenum (Ryuhei Matsuda) is a dream analyzer with the very unwanted “gift” of being able to hear the thoughts of those around him, as well as the ability to enter peoples’ subconscious while they dream. Kyoichi’s rare talents make him highly sought-after in his field, but they also render his life unbearable. He can heal broken minds, but he would just as soon kill himself as ever help another person again. A string of suicides occur, connected by a distinctly unnatural thread –- the deceased slashed themselves with razors while they slept. Enter Keiko Kirishima (super J-pop star Hitomi in her first role), a homicide detective fascinated by the case. She hunts Kyoichi down and essentially forces the death-tripping clairvoyant to help her investigate.
A morbidly poetic and super violent headtrip of a horror/crime film, Nightmare Detective is Shinya Tsukamoto’s cultural Molotov cocktail, exploding in the faces of mainstream Japanese filmgoers. Ryuhei Matsuda, a familiar face to Fantasians after his roles in such films as Otakus In Love and Synesthesia, exudes an odd, melancholic charisma as the film’s titular anti-hero, and Tsukamoto uses Hitomi’s striking demeanor to wondrous effect, particularly once circumstances ascend to full-on psychedelic hysteria. Its central premise might seem reminiscent of films like Dreamscape and the Nightmare On Elm Street series, but Nightmare Detective is a much more intellectually troubling and experimental work. American remake rights have already been optioned but there is simply no way that a US studio will make a film similar to this one in any way other than its title. As with Exte, and seemingly every other interesting film to emerge from Japan, Nightmare Detective also features the great Ren Ohsugi in a supporting role. A multi-threat master of celluloid assault, Tsukamoto directed, wrote, edited and co-produced -- and co-stars in a very memorable role, best left undescribed here.
"Edgy J-horror. (Tsukamoto's) talent for creating and maintaining a
frightening mood never falter." - Russell Edwards, VARIETY
“Be prepared for not just the usual goosebumps, but a viral infection of your dream life" - Mark Schilling, THE JAPAN TIMES
Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Screenplay: Shinya Tsukamoto
Cast: Ryuhei Matsuda
Producers: Takuji Ushiyama
Distributor: Dragon Dynasty/The Weinstein Company