Masters of Horror: Dream Cruise
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Daniel Gillies of Spider-Man 2 stars as an American attorney in Japan whose childhood trauma has left him with a crippling fear of the ocean. But when he begins a dangerous affair with the wife of a wealthy client, a sunset boat trip will reveal the violence and vengeance that waits just below the surface. Ryo Ishibashi of Audition and The Grudge co-stars in this creepy shocker adapted from the short story by legendary Japanese horror novelist Kji Suzuki - creator of Dark Water and The Ring / Ringu series - where the ultimate nightmares come to life aboard a Dream Cruise.
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Japanese Horror is usually so much better than this.
The DVD presentation is an extended 87 minute version of a story originally presented on Showtime's one hour Masters of Horror series. The 26th episode in the series is also unusual, because it was shot in Japan, but features English as the spoken language, and primarily had a Japanese cast and production crew. Actor Daniel Gillies, who is from New Zealand, is the only one of the primary stars who did not speak Japanese, and utilized translators to help him perform his role.
Jack Miller (Giles) an attorney in Japan, is in a relationship with Yuri Saito (Yoshino Kimura), the wife of Eiji Saito (Ryo Ishibashi) one of his firm's biggest clients. Jack needs to close a deal with Eiji, and although he has a great fear of the water, he accepts Eiji's invitation to take a cruise on his boat the "Yuri", to talk business. Leaving Tokyo the ship heads out to sea. Over dinner, the mood becomes quite tense, as it is clear that Eiji is aware of his wife's indiscretions, and that Jack has betrayed his trust. Eiji is headed deeper out to sea, when supernatural forces act, and the ship develops engine trouble and stops. Jack reveals to Yuri that his fear of the water, is a result of a childhood accident, where his younger brother Sean, drowned.
The basic story is very familiar for Japanese crime dramas, where revenge for an act like adultery is a very common theme. The supernatural aspect, featuring a vengeful "obake" (ghost), who seeks to torment victims, is also part of the Japanese tradition. The special effects are nicely done, as the obake (Miho Ninagawa) who comes from up the depths of sea, has kind of a soft, wet, oozy look, to go along with a greenish glow to produce a rather creepy appearance.
Ghost stories are seldom logical, and what is happening is a little hard to follow for a while, as a character that dies is possessed, but and appears normal, and a severed appendage comes to life, bent on homicide. Later, another character that should have drowned twice, impossibly manages to survive. Where the ghost of little brother Sean fits into the picture, remains unclear, but when that piece falls into place, it proves decisive.
The contrast between east and west is evident in Dream Cruise, but the ability of Ryo Ishibashi (Audition (Uncut Special Edition)) and Yoshino Kimura to speak English pretty well, helps to smooth things over. Daniel Gillies also had some challenging communication issues, but manages to overcome them. The acting performances are edgy, and the direction strong, creating an atmosphere of suspense and fear, with a minimal amount of violence and blood. The supernatural aspects, successfully turns a routine drama into a completely different place, as the ghost's behavior and the various apparitions, are largely unpredictable. That unpredictability may confuse some, while others may find it refreshing. The setting on a boat, creates a situation of complete and total isolation, although the scenes where the actors are swimming in the ocean (which were actually shot in a pool) are not as strong or realistic.
The bonus material includes a making of featurette, photo gallery, and a commentary track featuring Daniel Gillies, and producer Mick Garris, that discusses many of the unique behind the scenes issues that occurred during the making of the film. Asian style horror may not appeal to everyone, but with English as the featured language, this is a good introduction to the genre.
The masters of Horror series brought together some of the greatest names in horror film for a TV series. Which is pretty amazing in itself, but then it started squeezing great work out of directors (Argento and Carpenter in particular) who seemed incapable of it for decades beforehand. And what a roster--Joe Dante, Takashi Miike, Don Coscarelli... Norio Tsuruta? Yep, Norio Tsuruta, who at the time he was tabbed for this was a V-cinema guy who'd theatrically released one mildly successful suspense film, <em>Premonition</em>, and one weak series entry, <em>Ring 0: Birthday</em>. So I was a bit skeptical when I turned this one on. To be fair, it was better than I expected, though if you're looking for anything groundbreaking, you're not going to find it here.
Based on a short story by <em>Ring</em> author Kôji Suzuki, <em>Dream Cruise</em>tells the tale of Jack Miller (<em>Captivity</em>'s Daniel Gillies), a lawyer who is terrified of the water thanks to the drowning death of his brother Sean (<em>Sushi King Goes to New York!</em>'s Ethan Amis) when they were children. Despite this, Jack agrees to go for an afternoon cruise with a client (<em>Audition</em>'s Ryo Ishibashi) and his wife (<em>Blindness</em>' Yoshino Kimura) in order to get a signature. But, it turns out, everyone on the ship is hiding secrets... and Jack isn't the only one haunted by them.
It's not a bad little flick, carried mostly by Gillies, Kimura, and Ishibashi's considerable acting skills, but you're probably going to be able to name every development at least five minutes before it happens. This would be okay were Tsuruta enough of a stylist to make the old ground feel freshly-trod, but it comes off as a remake of something from his V-cinema days, and not even as stylish a one as <em>Premonition</em>. Worth checking out if you've exhausted all the rest of the Asian horror in the rental store. ***