Directed by Norio Tsuruta
Distributed by Anchor Bay
Whatever happened to horror on the high seas? Sure, there have been attempts at making us afraid of the vast ocean in the past decade, but nothing really struck a deep enough chord to be remembered. Nautical ghost stories are few and far between these days; nautical Japanese ghost stories are even rarer! Luckily the last episode of Masters of Horror’s second season managed to give us both.
An American adulterous lawyer in Japan has been invited out on a boat ride. The only problem is the boat is owned by the man who’s wife the lawyer has been knocking boots with. However, their secret affair soon becomes the least of the problems when ghosts from the past surface to disrupt the Dream Cruise.
Dream Cruise is a mixed bag of genuine scares, bad pacing and odd acting. The story itself makes for a very fun time, but it takes quite a bit to get rolling. Once things are on the move we are treated to some of the best jumps and gross-outs since Pelts. Limbs fall off, heads get smashed and there’s some good old creepy ghosts like those found in The Ring and The Grudge (the originals, mind you). Making it to these points is a bit of a chore, though.
The problem with the pacing is due to how Japanese horror works. It is explained to us in the behind-the-scenes featurette that Hollywood and Japan styles of horror flicks function on drastically different levels. Instead of getting in the viewers face with the killer, the Far East filmmakers prefer to take their time and build up with vague hints that things aren’t quite how they appear. Luckily here the climax pays off for the most part, though it may not be to every horror fan’s taste.
The acting may not also fit some tastes, as well. Understandably the crew is not American and working on a tight schedule so there is not much time to get English dialog down pat. Yoshino Kimura is the actress that seems to suffer from the constraints more than anyone. When acting surprised or scared she brings to mind some recent low-budget indy flicks we’ve reviewed. For the most part she is a splendid actress, but the little things here and there bring down the experience.
Dream Cruise may be one of those love it or hate it episodes. Even if you do dislike the episode, there is something to be said about the special features that may make the most stubborn horror fan tilt their head in interest. The making-of goes into great lengths about the contrasts between our films and those in Japan. We are given a look at the sets and special effects, yet they just pale into contrast to the cultural commentary the cast and crew speak about. Something about it just feels so different from everything we’ve seen on the MoH DVDs so far that it feels like a crime that this special feature is only a half hour long.
What isn’t short is the commentary, nor is it boring. Mick Garris and actor Daniel Gillies always have something informative to say. More of the contrasts in our cultures are explored during the track, too! It just doesn’t stop. Being a former anthropology major, I may find this more interesting than other horror fans, but learning about the types of horror overseas is never a bad thing, especially with how Hollywood manages to destroy the originals with the watered down remakes.
At the end of the day Dream Cruise is one of the few MoH you shouldn’t miss out on, but mainly because of the DVD. Just like Pelts and Valerie, this entry packs a big punch thanks to the special features and warrants a purchase.
3 1/2 out of 5
4 out of 5