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(Jul 13, 2006)
"Welcome to the DREAM PARLOR."
"You are now entering a world of pure imagination, a realm of lucid dreams. Journey to the summit of your greatest hopes. Explore your most primitive desires. At the Parlor, you can be everything you want. Go anywhere. Do anything. No questions asked."
All it costs is your soul.
Years ago, the burgeoning one-world government announced its intention to implant Identification Chips, IDCs, into the right hand of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Fearing this threat to personal freedoms, the People fought back ...
The People Lost ...
Two decades later, Citizen 11811, Elijah Barrett, a man torn between destiny and assimilation, rises to challenge the System. He uses his rank and position to sabotage public executions and to feed and shelter the less-fortunate Non-Citizens. When a close friend disappears, Eli's search leads him to the Dream Parlor, a Citizen-exclusive facility, developed by Doctor James Corbit, which induces lucid dreams.
Venturing into the darkened corners of his soul, Eli is enticed by the love of a beautiful woman ... and haunted by the image of a mysterious man. But as government violence grows in intensity, Eli is caught tampering with classified documents and tagged as a fugitive.
Now, Eli must learn the dark secrets behind the Dream Parlor in order to save countless lives ... even if it risks his own.
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First, the movie is low budget, but I do not write this to be negative. Viewers should just be aware that this is an independent film, and should not expect the flash or special effects of current Hollywood fare. The film makers did a lot with what they had to work with, and the director has a good eye. There's some decent CGI work, but don't expect "The Matrix" here.
Second, the performances were better than one might expect from a low budget movie. I've already been impressed with Andrews as a writer, and now I see that he's a pretty good actor, too. So are Harold Cannon (who I think I've seen before) and Kevin Moore, and an enjoyable Kevin Crowther. Alison Storry was less impressive, but she was far from terrible. All together, a solid cast.
Finally, the movie has a slow but steady pace, which picks up noticeably in the final act. The total running time felt a little short, but I'll get to that in a moment. Social and religious commentary is evident, but it does not bog the movie down. The story is straight forward and relevant, and refreshingly high brow. There were some strobe effects that got a little hard on the eyes during the film's climax, but they don't last long enough to be a real problem. And as I mentioned in my review of the book, the main characters of Eli and Corbit are multi layered and very human.
My only real complaint is that some of the supporting characters ended up being a little flat and two dimensional. And having read the book, which was BASED on this movie, I was a little surprised by this. It had been several months since I read the book, but I kept feeling that something was missing here and there. So I looked through the DVD's special features, and sure enough, THERE were the deleted scenes that I was half remembering.
As I mentioned above, the movie is a little short, running just barely more than 90 minutes. So I can't help but wonder WHY some of those scenes were cut. A visit to the movie's website explains some of these decisions, but still ... with so much time to spare under the 2 hour mark, it seems that SOME of these scenes could have remained intact and fleshed out those characters. Especially Kirk, who could have been more than just a cookie cutter tough guy.
But again, I make these biased comments as a fan of Andrews' books in general, and "Dream Parlor" in particular. It is possible that, had I not KNOWN that something was missing here and there, I MIGHT not have noticed as much.
Still, overall I enjoyed this independent film, and consider it a worthy companion to its somewhat better novelization. Rent it if you can find it, buy it if you can't!