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In Dreams (1999) – Movie Review

In Dreams poster

Written by: Neil Jordan & Bruce Robinson
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Starring: Annette Bening, Aidan Quinn, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Guilfoyle, Stephen Rea

My Advice: Wait for MST3K

At the beginning of this film, we are told that a town was evacuated back in 1965 in order to flood the area and make a reservoir. When (if, rather) you see this film, mark the words on the screen well, because it’s the last interesting thing you will witness for the next 95 minutes.

Claire (Bening) is a loving mother who has a loving (sort of) husband (Quinn) and an endearingly cute daughter (Katie Sagona). Oh, and she’s been psychic her entire life, dreaming about things that either are happening or will happen. Which exasperates Quinn’s character to no end, but hey, don’t you hate it when your wife waits to tell you she’s psychic until AFTER the marriage? I digress. It seems that there’s a killer on the loose in their undetermined geographic locale, grabbing little girls and spiriting them away to be killed. Claire keeps dreaming more and more of the killer until she’s sure she is being given the information she needs to stop him, and sets out to try, despite being thought insane by everyone around her.

[ad#longpost]Sounds interesting enough, right? What could go wrong? Well, everything. Bening is reduced to either crying, screaming or making strange faces. She’s just not cut out to be a “dream warrior,” I guess. Quinn is underused and a throwaway plot line about a possible affair seems to be the screenwriters’ idea of character development for him. And Robert Downey Jr., who I don’t know why the movie made such a big deal about not showing you his face since you get several shots of him in the trailer, is completely wasted in his goofy apple-loving Jame Gumb impersonation. He ties with Vince Vaughn for “Least Scary Cinematic Murderer of the Decade.” It is amusing that with his hair tinted red and cut short, he looks a lot like Keith Flint of Prodigy.

Stephen Rea tries to limit his screen time with that “Neil, this is the last favor I do for you” sad puppydog look on his face. So much time is dealt with Claire in an asylum (doing the “Why doesn’t anyone believe me?”TM scenes) that it quickly becomes Mel BrooksOne Flew Over Elm Street, with the obligatory blood coming out of walls, drugs taken to avoid dreams, even with Bening delivering the “I’m going after Robert Krueger, Jr… No matter what happens, don’t wake me up”TM line that Craven is getting royalties for. Between the convenient coincidences (Claire gets locked in a room once inhabited by Downey’s Lecter wannabe), the annoying nursery rhyme (used, well, I lost count at sixty-seven times), and the supposed twisty plot (which was plain to anyone thirty minutes in), this is a mistake. If I was them, I would have gone direct-to-video.

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