Thursday, July 17, 2014

Film Review: Nightmare Detective 2 (2008)

Nightmare Detective 2 (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a frightening horror film that's difficult to get into but rewarding to complete."

Haunted by nightmares of her classmate, Yukie Mashiro (Yui Miura) seeks out Kyoichi Kagenuma (Ryuhei Matsuda), who is capable of entering other people's dreams...

Nightmare Detective 2 continues as Mashiro tries to convince Kagenuma to help her. Mashiro's friends had suffered from similar nightmares and have ended up dead, and Mashiro fears she may be next. Reluctant at first, Kagenuma eventually agrees in order to alleviate his own nightmares -- in order to understand his mother's death. But, this case takes a larger toll on Kagenuma, taking him into the darker corner of the dreamscape. The story is often convoluted, partly due to the storytelling, as well as the general concept. However, it kept me interested and engaged to the end. And, the ending was good, too; actually, it was a surprisingly-effective emotional ending.

Far from a traditional Japanese horror film, Nightmare Detective 2 delves deeply into a nightmarish and original concept. I have not seen the first film, but was perfectly capable of soaking in the gist of it; however, as previously mentioned, there is some confusion to be found, as well -- the film is drenched in ambiguity. On one hand, it's somewhat confusing and often difficult to sink you fangs into; on the other hand, it adds to the overall engagement of the story, as well as the ominous atmosphere. On that point, this slow-burn horror film is a slick blend of jolting jump-scares, great suspense, and nightmarish visuals. In other words, it's a frightening horror film that's difficult to get into but rewarding to complete. I have very few complaints with the film: it often moves at an unnecessarily slow pace, it loses some momentum towards the end, and the ambiguity is just slightly overwhelming.

The acting is great from the entire cast. Yui Miura is good, and Ryuhei Matsuda is great. The film is shot well; some scenes are a little too dark to see, but it's mostly very stylish. The music is also great; I especially loved the ominous track that played during the nightmare sequences. The English subtitles in the Netflix Instant stream are great. Director and writer Shinya Tsukamoto is very stylish and great at building horror; some of the writing could've used some fine-tuning, but the direction is overall great.

Overall, Nightmare Detective 2 is a very good Japanese horror film. It's a different experience, and it is complicated and ambiguous, but it's also surprisingly scary, engaging, and even somewhat thought-provoking. It's definitely a film that warrants a second viewing. In other words, it's a frightening horror film that's difficult to get into but rewarding to complete -- maybe more with more viewings.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence, and some disturbing visuals.

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