Shinya Tsukamoto | 2007 | 106 min | Japan
The lead-off of almost every review of the latest Shinya Tsukamoto film, Nightmare Detective, is a heads-up that it's not like his other films. That it's his take on j-horror blockbusters, but with a tinge of parody. There's maybe an argument to be made there, but Nightmare Detective isn't nearly as un-Tsukamoto as everyone would have you believe.
Japanese pop singer, hitomi stars as Keiko, an uptight police detective investigating a string of murders that appear to have taken place within the victims' dreams. While they sleep, a mysterious man known only as 0 is controlling their bodies to brutally kill themselves in REAL LIFE, resulting in apparent suicides. Keiko is told of a young man named Kyoishi (Ryuhei Matsuda)who can enter people's dreams, and she seeks out his help to solve the murders.
The film plays out in a fairly straight forward way until the last act which takes place in the dream realm. The intensity is turned up, and Keiko and Kyoishi take on 0 (played by Tsukamoto himself). It's always fun to watch Tsukamoto act, and even better when he plays an unsettling creep like he does here.
Nightmare Detective may be a little more naratively normal than most of Tsukamoto's films, but it's film about repressed or lost memories, rage, violence, and loneliness in a big city. If those aren't Tsukamoto enough for you, you're maybe just looking for another drill-dick, and that's not going to happen again anytime soon. He's a much more well rounded and mature filmmaker than he was when he made Tetsuo, and this, his first foray into mainstream filmmaking since Hiroku the Goblin is an excellent addition to his filmography and would be to your DVD shelf. Get the original where and while you can since the Brothers Weinstein are currently in the process of making an English remake. Meanwhile, Tsukamoto's making a sequel in Japan.