In Dreamland, director Bruce McDonald and actor Stephen McHattie join forces and stage a quizzical, quirky dramedy about vampires and loner hit men.
Film veteran Bruce McDonald strikes back, and it’s all in on genre deregulation and quirky characters mix-up. Gearing up on thriller, horror, and a pretty dose of Eyes-Wide-Shut extravaganza esoterism, McDonald sews together a funny yet unremittingly deadpan comedy that will equally feed novelty-eager eyes and patrons of the arthouse. Tune in, and enjoy the ride. It’ll be a grand drift.
As far as otherworldly creatures are concerned, Dreamland opens in the most unlikely place in the Western world: Luxembourg. A very Leone-reminiscent unnamed man (Stephen McHattie) walks dark alleys and poorly neon-lit streets. He visits obscure clubs and shady cellars where mob guys trade in underage girls. Throughout the process, the man’s soul remains spotlessly clean to the point that, when mob intermediary Hercules (Henry Rollins) orders him to chase down a famous trumpet player (doubled by McHattie himself) and cut his little finger off, the man refuses, putting his own life at great risk.
Thus, the hunt begins, and with it an epic struggle between light and shadow that will bring McHattie’s mysterious hit man to confront a Draculesque Count (Tómas Lemarquis) with a penchant for little girls as well as international criminal organisations. Siding with the light, Hit Man never loses his aplomb as he is knocked off multiple times and faced with spiritual annihilation in a nightmarish Dream Land where you can have everything you’ve ever wished for at hand’s reach.
Shot with a palette of bold, frantic neon-light tones, McDonald’s film bursts with daring originality and uncompromising joie de vivre. The film’s overall shallow focus is heightened by the director’s soundtrack of choice, which pumps acid jazz energy into the veins of Dreamland. Jump-cutting from place to place, from situation to situation, the film’s sketchy structure takes the audience on a rollercoaster journey through a post-social world of private ethos and momentous demonstrations of human love.
McDonald’s style is minimalistic without being neither sober nor dismissive. Representing depth through a problematisation of the bi-dimensionality of superficial structures, Dreamland swerves across a web of influences and quotations – but, which is of paramount importance, it never loses its signature vision and on-point performances. You’ll be wanting to find out more about this oddly fascinating world. And perhaps you’ll succeed. Perhaps you’ll find the final key and will unlock the secret to McDonald’s oneiric Land. Or perhaps you’ll just drift from frame to frame, wondering how it can be that something so unconventional is able to spark your curiosity this much. But, to start with, rest assured: Dreamland is the weirdest movie you’ll ever see.
Dreamland is now available on DVD and Digital HD: click here to find out where.