Defying straightforward explanation, the first of three imminent flicks titled Dreamland will surely be the most bizarre.
A jazz trumpeter (Stephen McHattie), a hit man (also Stephen McHattie), the wedding to end all weddings, severed fingers, Juliette Lewis and of course there’s a vampire thrown in. Our hit man, seeking redemption, isn’t having any of it.
This film would not be able to operate at the register it does but for Tomas Lemarquis, credited here solely as ‘Vampire.’ Protruding on proceedings when they need an injection of the surreal and chewing every piece of scenery he can find, Lemarquis is a delight who in his pure conviction (and evident revelry in this turn) sells this sphere better than any other attempted world-building herein.
McHattie, faring better as our muscle, heralds the two far and above best sequences in this movie. The first, early on, taking place in a store, pits Johnny against a tired married couple. Evoking a uniquely tense situation only to diffuse it with McHattie’s well practised deadpan, it’s a wry moment of very bleak humour that shines amidst many such attempts.
The latter sequence, the film’s final and best in show, beyond the events of the feature here coming to a (very) colourful fulcrum enlivens Dreamland by doing exactly that; proffering us at this juncture our most vibrant, overwhelming insight into this realm. Transporting us therein much as the Cantina spirited us far, far away, the imagination that went into this hellscape is aboundingly apparent in the smorgasbord of guests to whom we are treated, with simple lighting techniques and production design too imparting a sense of the far-sighted and other-worldly.
A feature predictably a fixture at both the Fantasia and Fantastic Film Festivals and now Sydney Underground, Dreamland, joyfully lambasting stratification, is having none of our world though plenty of its own.
Dreamland screens as part of the Sydney Underground Film Festival on Friday 13 September at 10:30PM and Saturday 14 September at 6PM