Masters of Horror: Dream Cruise
I can safely say that I am no expert on Japanese horror movies. For whatever reason, I have never really delved into that particular off-shoot of horror. Maybe because we were inundated with weak Americanized remakes of good Japanese movies (The Grudge) or maybe because there are some that are just too intense (The Audition). I tried to watch Tokyo Gore Police and I couldn't get past the first 5 minutes (over the top self mutilation just isn't my thing, y'know?). I decided to slowly wade into the pool of Japanese horror with a little help from Masters of Horror.
Dream Cruise is directed by Norio Tsuruta (Premonition, Kakashi) and tells the story of American lawyer Jack Miller (Daniel Gilles, Spider-Man 2, True Blood) working in Tokyo. When he was younger, Jack's brother, Sean, died in a boating accident and he has been afraid of the sea ever since. He is plagued by visions of his drowning brother, just out of his reach. An legal issue has arisen with his client Eiji (Ryo Ishibashi, Audition, The Grudge), so Eiji invites Jack to join him on his boat to discuss the situation. Jack has been having an affair with Eiji's wife Yuri and the both suspect Eiji knows. Eiji takes them out to sea where he reveals he knows their secret. The boat stalls and Eiji goes underneath the boat to free the propellers from seaweed. The seaweed is actually the hair of a woman and the propellers mysteriously start up again while Eiji is beneath the boat. He miraculously returns unharmed, but it becomes apparent that he is not himself. Eiji has been possessed by the spirit of his first wife, seeking vengeance for her murder at the hands of Eiji. Jack and Yuri battle the possessed Eiji as well as other supernatural occurrences that are trying to kill them. Jack begins to see and hear his dead brother and fears he is losing his mind. Will Jack and Yuri make it safely off the boat or will the vengeful ghost drag them to a watery grave?
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Filmed in Japan, Dream Cruise was actually a 90 minute movie that was condensed down into the 60 minute Masters of Horror format. I find it hard to believe that there is an extra 30 minutes of this movie because they pretty much took care of everything in 60 minutes. Besides some more character development and a few more ghosts scenes, I'm not sure what else they could have done. The story is pretty basic and feels like someone said “Let's take some stuff from 'What Lies Beneath' and put it on a boat!” There are some tense moments and a bit of action, but nothing great. There is one scene where Jack is attacked by Eiji's dismembered arm. The scenes are shot in such a way that screen cuts off the actual person that belongs to the “dismembered” arm. When they back the shot up, the arm looks like one of those plastic arms that some people stick out of their car as a joke.
Ryo Ishibashi does a very good job as Eiji. He comes of as very sinister and makes you feel concerned for Jack and Yuri's safety. Unfortunately, Daniel Gilles doesn't do such a great as Jack Miller. He comes off as a bit wooden and when he does show emotion, it comes off all wrong. It's not all his fault though because his character was made to be too weak. He's constantly getting knocked down or knocked out. I never felt like cheering for him to survive because he's just not a hero. The ghost has some pretty creepy facial expressions, but when you look at it from afar, it looks like a cheap projection. Scary, but kind of goofy at the same time.
How the hell am I supposed to eat ice cream with this?
Ultimately, Dream Cruise is a decent watch, but certainly nothing to rave about. If anything, it's a good introduction to Japanese horror. Unsettling at times, its not over the top gruesome or scary. It lacks in traditional horror movie action, but has some good suspense. Give it a shot, you might like it.