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Nightmare Detective (2006)
"Akumu tantei" (original title)

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Three people in Tokyo take a surreal voyage of self-discovery through memory and nightmares. "O" intends suicide while talking on a cell-phone with a stranger he meets on line who plans a ... See full summary »


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Director: Shin'ya Tsukamoto


Credited cast:
Ryûhei Matsuda ...
Kyoichi Kagenuma
Hitomi ...
Keiko Kirishima
Masanobu Andô ...
Detective Wakamiya
Ren Ohsugi ...
Detective Sekiya
Keizo Oishi
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nobuteru Akimoto
Kenichi Arai
Masayoshi Deguchi
Eri Fuse
Keichirô Hasegawa
Kimie Hayama
Takumi Hirano
Seriyu Ichino
Shigetoshi Iida


Three people in Tokyo take a surreal voyage of self-discovery through memory and nightmares. "O" intends suicide while talking on a cell-phone with a stranger he meets on line who plans a simultaneous suicide. Events take a horrifying turn. Keiko Kirishima is a cool, seemingly emotionless police detective, brilliant but off-putting. She's faced with two mutilated corpses who appear to have killed themselves, but she's not sure. A cell-phone number links the deaths. She calls on Akumu Tantei, a poor and suicidal young man who has the ability to enter people's dreams. He's reluctant to help. His past haunts him. A subconscious duel of terror and blood awaits the three. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

13 January 2007 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Nightmare Detective  »

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Followed by Nightmare Detective 2 (2008) See more »


Gymnopédie No.3
Music by Erik Satie
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User Reviews

A very good comic book-ish film, and nothing more.
4 November 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

First of all, I've never seen a Shinya Tsukamoto movie before this. I read reviews commenting on how this is his most unoriginal work, and I really can't confirm or deny that. As a standalone piece, however, I can say this is completely unlike any other detective movie I've ever seen—and it does so without cheese. On a technical level, does that make it original? Not necessarily, but it certainly isn't unoriginal either. Either way, it's very entertaining and interesting, and as I just said, lacks the cheese that the majority of supernatural horror films have lately.

The reason it lacks cheese is because Nightmare Detective builds up layers of gritty reality through mainly being a comic (but not comical) detective mystery. This gives a lot more weight to the supernatural elements, and creates a lot cooler tone. I've seen people bash the detective elements of the story, but I personally thought they were genius. The idea of having two detectives, one a police detective and the other a dream detective working together was very cool. Like I said, the idea isn't wholesale original, but it's certainly different and very well done.

Shinya Tsukamoto's camera-work and cinematography left me in awe more than once. The man knows how to direct. The entire movie has the best production value I've ever seen in an Asian movie, and I've seen a lot of Asian movies. The detail is crisp, and sometimes with color washout that completed the gritty, dirty comic book tone. The dream sequences are not all-out surrealism as would be cliché, but have subtle nods at surrealism while being otherwise realistic. Once again, genius.

I've read reviews that trash this movie for not being scary. Simply put: what movie IS scary anymore? I've seen hundreds of horror movies, and I can count the ones that were honestly scary on one hand. I can't compare this to Shinya Tsukamoto's other works, as I said, but from what I take, this is a step down on the level of terror. Fine. Why is that bad? A movie that exists only to be scary is just like a movie that exists just to be gory—it's hallow. The Exorcist is quoted as "the scariest movie of all time", but when I watched it I wasn't scared once. The thing is, the level of terror in a movie is mainly relative. Is Nightmare Detective scary? Some will think so. Did I? To an extent, yes.

As far as the acting goes, I didn't notice it being good or bad. As for the level of boredom, it isn't very fast paced but it will keep your interest until the end, which is something I can't say about many movies. Dialogue is standard, and never too excessive, which is another plus. The music is unoffensive and unnoticeable, except where Shinya Tsukamoto uses some really cool mellow songs to underline the mood, and it works very well.

Overall, it's very much worth a watch, especially if you're a fan of mystery graphic novels, because it carries the same feel and flow. I'd even go as far as to say it's worth a buy. It did what it wanted to accomplish, and even if Shinya Tsukamoto's other works are better than this, I don't see how anyone would be disappointed.


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