I like this director’s style, this film may have the largest budget given to him, but this director stands by his art, never for a moment does he give in to the pressure of making a studio-approved/influenced film. Nightmare Detective follows a detective named Keiko who is summoned to investigate supposedly two separate suicide cases. The suicides have a common denominator; the victims dialed the same number on their cell phones just minutes before their demise. There are also a lot of themes and Christian motifs that involve birth and baptism, rebirth and redemption, damnation to hell and eternal suffering. While these complicated thematic style may be its strength, it may also frustrate those looking for the usual scary thrills.
As this is a new kind of homicide, the police have to take a new route of investigation, using someone gifted in supernatural occurrences with experience in delving into the thoughts and dreams. Viewers looking for a fast-paced horror thriller may find their interest beginning to wane after the dream world begins to take center stage. The dream sequences are pretty damn intense. Nightmare Detective is a classy endeavor that resists cliché and categorization.
Like most dreams, what happens in the final conflict is surreal and difficult to grasp from a story perspective, but if you can weather the storm of the convoluted execution, you’ll probably come away with a positive enough experience to feel satisfied. This is an incredible cerebral horror and a breath of fresh air amidst the deluge of long-haired ghosts that have been plaguing Japan over the past decade. There is some alternately beautiful and horrifying cinematography with lots of varying color filters, and a bit of Sam Raimi-esque camera craziness to boot.
I like to have some semblance of a story to help me comprehend what I’m seeing, and at some point I felt like Nightmare Detective got off track and just sort of gave in to the madness. However, the director proves once again that he is still ready and willing to take chances with his movies, and has lost none of his dedication to making sure that cinema stays dangerous. The film starts of extremely strong, creating a tangible sense of dread and oppressive danger, the likes of which most American horror films only hope to attain. In closing, Nightmare Detective wasn’t anywhere near as good as I thought it would be, but the premise was interesting enough to keep me trudging through to the end of the film.