Masters of Horror: Dream Cruise (US - DVD R1)
The long, black hair, pale faces and vengeance were not in Gabe's brochure
Jack (Daniel Gillies) is an American lawyer working in Tokyo who has fallen in love with the wife of his most valued client, Eiji (Ryo Ishibashi). Despite Jack's deep-rooted fear of the sea, he reluctantly accepts Eiji's suspicious invitation to join the couple for a day trip on the Tokyo Bay. Pleasure turns to terror as they discover the watery destiny in store for each of them.
It’s been pretty well established that I’m not a fan of modern Kaidan films or their Korean, Chinese, Thai, and American counterparts. I wasn’t a fan of them when they started to hit big with Ringu, and after reviewing just about a million of them I’ve grown fatigued and frustrated. I was a little disappointed with Takashi Miike’s first season Masters of Horror entrée, Imprint, because it followed the vengeful spirit formula a little too closely, and of all the prevalent directors in the country I think Miike is the one capable of doing something different with the genre.
Norio Tsuruta is not capable of doing something different with the genre, nor is he worthy of the title of ‘Master of Horror’. Tsuruta has only managed a handful of Ringu rip-offs, and from what I can tell only two have made it to the big screen. What I’ve seen from the director (which honestly isn’t much) has all been bland retreads of the kinds of things directors like Hideo Nakata and Takashi Shimizu have been doing in their sleep for several years. I have a certain respect for those guys though, because at least they try changing it up on occasion, even if they regularly fail.
Dream Cruise is a Masters of Horror cash-in on the still popular genre, and brings no sense irony or ingenuity to the formula. The only reason to see the film at all is actor Ryo Ishibashi, the dependable professional seen in films like Audition, Suicide Circle, and The Grudge. Ishibashi is fantastically hammy as the jealous and murderous husband, and uses his problems with the English language to his advantage. Yoshino Kimura, on the other hand, struggles with the language barrier, and is totally without passion when speaking her English lines. Kimura is a solid actress, and when speaking with her native tongue can be quite effective.
Tsuruta hinges his film on what seems to be a decent sized budget for a Masters of Horror episode, and a rather weak performance from a Canadian actor named Daniel Gillies, last seen in Spider-Man 2 as John Jameson (what the Hell happened to that set up?). Gillies is consistently lost, and an ineffective pivot, but I don’t blame him for the failure of the production. The problem here is a weak script, and a runtime that just… keeps… going. Cut to sixty minutes for television, on DVD Dream Cruise runs a grueling eighty-seven minutes, through four or five false endings. The visuals are there, including some decent gore (a rarity for Kaidan), but at the end of the day I don’t think anyone cares.
The Masters of Horror series continues a consistency streak by presenting another fine anamorphic transfer. Like past season two transfers this one is a bit noisy at times, but details are sharp and colours bright. The blacks are gorgeously deep, and contrast levels are pleasantly subtle. The biggest grip this time around isn’t with greenish skin tones, but with an overall softness, which I’m not sure was intended by the director.
We can give Dream Cruise a big gold star for audio quality and mixing. Sounds Like is still the season’s champion in the area of audio output, but the liveliness of this mix will surely please fans more than most DTV feature releases. The most impressive scenes are the ones that take place on the open ocean, where the rear channels positively teem with sloshing water sound effects. The score is rather forgettable, but effectively mixed, and impresses with its punchy bass levels.
I’m assuming that Tsuruta can’t speak English, and was uncomfortable with the prospect of an audio commentary, but star Gillies and producer Mick Garris do a pretty good job, with the help of a moderator. Interestingly enough, this is one of the best Masters of Horror commentaries I’ve ever sat through. The group dynamic keeps things lively, and the information quotient is solid. I still don’t like the film very much, but I learned quite a bit about the Japanese filmmaking process versus the way they do it in the States and Canada (where the rest of the series was filmed).
This disc also houses the most complete behind the scenes featurette I’ve seen from the series. This is likely due to the fact that Dream Cruise was co-produced by a Japanese company and released theatrically in the region (hence the longer run time). The featurette isn’t exactly enthralling, but it’s quite informative, and watching the Japanese actors trying to deal with Gillies’ Western approach is quite entertaining.
The disc is fished up with a bunch of Masters of Horror trailers and the original script in DVDROM form.
In interviews Mick Garris consistently speaks about his want to create a series that wasn’t just American in its styles, but at the end of the day Miike and Argento made watered down American versions of their films. Tsuruta does more or less the same thing, as Dream Cruise looks and feels more like the Hollywood J-Horror remakes then the real thing. The teeth are missing and the gloss is overpowering. I only recommend this one to die-hard Masters of Horror and Kaidan fanatics.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Release Date: 13th November 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English/Japanese, Dolby Digital 2.0 English/Japanese
Subtitles: English (burned)
Extras: Actor/Producer Commentary, Behind the Scenes,Trailers, DVDROM Script
Easter Egg: No
Director: Norio Tsuruta
Cast: Daniel Gillies, Ryo Ishibashi, Yoshino Kimura
Length: 90 minutes
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