Dreamland (2019)

As a particular wedding is about to take place, a killer is hired to bring back the finger of an esteemed musician brought into the city for the wedding. As these man try to find a way out of their personal situations, things keep taking odd turns and forcing them to get involved.

Written by Tony Burgess and Patrick Whistler and directed by Bruce McDonald, Dreamland goes for the absurd more than once in how it handles its story and how it’s brought to the screen. The many characters who come into play here are all seemingly a bit off or completely crazy with some of them coming off better fleshed out on screen than others which may be a combination of writing, direction, and acting decision. The story itself is interesting enough, but it feels like something is missing, causing it to test the attention span of the viewer at times. The story on the whole is sometimes interesting, sometimes not so much. It seems to come down more to the cast and their performances to keep the interest and make the film something a viewer may want to watch.

The cast here is led by Stephen McHattie in two different roles, giving him more than enough to work with and letting him show he can act his way around many other actors. His work here is appropriate to the characters and adds mystery and interest. Top billed, but with much less screen time is Juliette Lewis who goes full on eccentric here and gives her all to her performance as the Countess. She does the character hiding something really well here. Playing the Countess’ brother, Tómas Lemarquis  is both interesting and familiar in how he plays this character who clearly has something special and creepy about him. Now, that something special may not be what you’d expect and Lemarquis plays with that in his performance. Also needing to be noted is Henry Rollins who sometimes feels perfect for the part and at other times just feels completely out of place. Perhaps this was caused by the casting decision, perhaps by the story itself, perhaps by something else. His work his ok here, but not his best unfortunately. The kid cast is good here, so kudos to all of them.

The cinematography by Richard Van Oosterhout is fantastic and makes full use of the locations and decors, giving them room to shine and making them the perfect backdrop for the story. The way these settings are framed and given the room needed to be effective is something many films tend to forget while trying to push the focus on the characters and making it feel forced. Nothing in how Dreamland is filmed feels forced. To work with the images, the music by Jonathan Goldsmith is a bit less obvious and it really is used to help the story’s mood come through. Towards the end, the score really gets its moments and makes the most of them with a bit more a felt presence.

Dreamland is a bit of a nonsensical film with some good performance, it allows Juliette Lewis to truly have fun and go nutty at times, something that is never not entertaining. The film itself is mostly just ok overall as the story has its hits and misses with some sections that feel forgettable as they are being watched. The film is nicely dark, with some really dark moments and storylines that feel like a bit of a film noir and a thriller with a supernatural angle that is almost just a throwaway item in the story. It’s an okay watch, but won’t really stick in the back of the mind once it’s over.