Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Daniel looks at Disney's beautifully melancholy classic ‘The Rescuers’ on the latest episode of Ink & Paint - listen now!x
review, Dreamland, Dreamland, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Henry Rollins, Juliette Lewis, Astrid Roos, Tómas Lemarquis, Hana Sofia Lopes, Guillame Kerbusch, Stéphane Bissot, Julian Nest, Bruce McDonald, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

DREAMLAND

★★★

SURREALIST NOIR

SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
13th September 2019

Director Bruce McDonald ('Hard Core Logo', 'The Tracy Fragments') has been one of the most prominent indie voices in Canadian cinema for the past three decades. He is known for his love for pop culture and aptitude for cheekiness in his films. His filmography spans far and wide, covering a plethora of diverse genres and themes.

McDonald and Tony Burgess first teamed up in 2008, when McDonald directed Burgess' screenplay adaptation of his own novel 'Pontypool Changes Everything'. The result was the sublime 'Pontypool', which followed a morning radio DJ named Grant Mazzy (veteran character actor Stephen McHattie, in the role he was born to play) as he began his normal day at a new gig in a small Canadian town with his producer Sydney (Lisa Houle).

Without warning, reports arise of people saying strange things, chanting, spouting gibberish. It turns violent. From there, the situation spirals out of control. It's a thinking man's zombie movie, a satisfyingly weird piece of filmmaking that feels like it could have been made 50 years ago, would have been particularly relevant ten years ago, and still hums in the age of Twitter and YouTube. To say much more would be to spoil its twist on a classic horror trope, but the film ends on a weird note, with a noir-inspired post-credit sequence that doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the movie.

WATCH: 'DREAMLAND'
WATCH HUNDREDS OF UNIQUE FILMS
SWITCH
WATCH

McDonald's latest film, a strange mix of noir atmosphere and surrealism called 'Dreamland', not only reunites him with Burgess, McHattie and Houle, it also acts as a spin-off to that unusual post-credit sequence from 'Pontypool'.

Johnny Dead Eyes (the always superb McHattie, 'Come to Daddy') is a skilled gun for hire working for crime boss Hercules (Henry Rollins), who runs a nightclub called Al-Qaeda. For his next job, Hercules wants Johnny to take the right little finger from drug-addicted jazz trumpet player The Maestro (also McHattie, but with better grooming). Dead Eyes and The Maestro are doppelgängers, although this never factors into the story aside from the hitman musing: "We start out as a bunch of people, but we end up as one." However, Dead Eyes begins to get second thoughts about the job when he discovers that Hercules has begun a human trafficking operation. "Don't be a fuckface," advises Hercules, clad in a gold-sequined jacket and wielding the manic demeanour of a David Lynch character.

Dead Eyes discovers that a kidnapped 14-year-old girl is being sold to The Countess (a scenery-chewing Juliette Lewis, 'Ma', 'Nerve') and will be married off at an elaborate ceremony, soundtracked by The Maestro. When Deadeyes inquires who the groom might be, Hercules replies: "The Countess' brother. Some kinda vampire, I don't know," because the brother (Tómas Lemarquis, 'Blade Runner 2049') actually is a bald Nosferatu-like vampire. Like the many other weird events in the film, nobody acts surprised by this. Dead Eyes must prevent this wedding with the assistance of Lisa (Lisa Houle), who... well, I'm not quite clear on her identity or what her relationship to anyone else is.

The violence and insanity of 'Dreamland' have a lightness and imaginative quality that feels quite unique - this is a film driven by a hazy, dreamlike logic.

The violence and insanity of 'Dreamland' have a lightness and imaginative quality that feels quite unique - this is a film driven by a hazy, dreamlike logic. Set against an unnamed Eastern European city and refusing to elaborate on its exact time period, the film is awash with odd moments and unexplained quirks. In one scene, a woman puts a rifle to the head of The Maestro and implores him to kill her husband, as the husband nods understandingly. A short time later we see the couple again, the previous encounter seemingly forgotten. This comes just moments after the hitman is gunned down by a squad of neatly-dressed children armed with pistols, barely escaping with his life.

McDonald has always been an ambitious and difficult-to-categorise director, and his latest film evokes the jumps in logic, tone, and setting that its name implies. The movie is an intentional mishmash that, if you look too closely, may well seem convoluted and the unsettling nature of the film ends up being more irritating than inviting. But there is also a genuine sense of fun that makes up for it.

'Dreamland' is an extremely strange movie, and that strangeness will either endear it to you or alienate you. Equal parts violent, tragic, comic, silly and surreal, your best bet is to go limp and let the madcap moments of the film wash over you.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 32m
CAST: Stephen McHattie
Lisa Houle
Henry Rollins
Juliette Lewis
Astrid Roos
Tómas Lemarquis
Hana Sofia Lopes
Guillame Kerbusch
Stéphane Bissot
Julian Nest
DIRECTOR: Bruce McDonald
WRITERS: Tony Burgess
Patrick Whistler
PRODUCERS: Rob Merilees
Morris Ruskin
Jesus Gonzalez-Elvira
Sebastian Schelenz
Amber Ripley
SCORE: Jonathan Goldsmith
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Sydney Underground Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights. 
The Hating Game - When rivalry turns to romance
TRENDINGWIN THE HATING GAMEWhen rivalry turns to romance
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
The Hating Game - Steamy leads disserviced by a stale script
TRENDINGTHE HATING GAMESteamy leads disserviced by a stale script
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
There Will Be Blood - Celebrating the 15th anniversary of an American masterpiece
TRENDINGTHERE WILL BE BLOODCelebrating the 15th anniversary of an American masterpiece
Encanto - Family matters derail the latest from Disney Animation
TRENDINGENCANTOFamily matters derail the latest from Disney Animation
Dragged Across Concrete - A hypnotically violent and excessive crime flick
TRENDINGDRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETEA hypnotically violent and excessive crime flick
Underwater love - Seven films to watch before 'The Shape of Water'
TRENDINGUNDERWATER LOVESeven films to watch before 'The Shape of Water'
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
The Trouble with Being Born - Controversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
TRENDINGTHE TROUBLE WITH BEING BORNControversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
The Mystery of Henri Pick - A charming literary detective story
TRENDINGTHE MYSTERY OF HENRI PICKA charming literary detective story
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
Spencer - A beautifully strange and deeply moving fable of the People's Princess
TRENDINGSPENCERA beautifully strange and deeply moving fable of the People's Princess
The Worst Person In The World - A Norwegian '500 Days of Summer'
TRENDINGTHE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLDA Norwegian '500 Days of Summer'
An American Werewolf in London - Beware the moon on the 40th anniversary of a horror classic
TRENDINGAN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDONBeware the moon on the 40th anniversary of a horror classic
Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Complete Series - Sketches at a revolution
TRENDINGMONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS: THE COMPLETE SERIESSketches at a revolution
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
Burning Kiss - Baroque, eye-catching Australian neo-noir
TRENDINGBURNING KISSBaroque, eye-catching Australian neo-noir
Bangla - A truly beautiful mess
TRENDINGBANGLAA truly beautiful mess
© 2011 - 2022 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!