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Let me say first off that the fact that this episode is a slow build had nothing to do with my giving it a low rating. I love a film that builds its story and suspense. Some of the best horror films do this. My problem with Dream Cruise is that its all been done before. What we have here is your standard Japanese ghost story (see The Ring, The Grudge, ad nauseum) combined with a limited cast on a boat (see Dead Calm, etc.). In fact, there's really not a lot going for this episode in my opinion. Oooo spooky Japanese ghost with long hair. That's scary. Mediocre acting from a so-so cast. Wow. The only thing I really enjoyed about this episode was the end. As in it was over. The episode looks great, but looks alone can't save a ship from sinking. Leave this one in dry dock.
Takashi Miike's contribution to the Masters of Horror's first season was one of the absolute greatest episodes of the entire show. With his uniquely shocking style, Miike delivered a nightmarish tale that was practically impossible to categorize. The second season contains another short film directed by an Asian "master" (although this term is debatable, since Norio Tsuruta's only did the mediocre "Premonition" and one of the "Ringu" sequels thus far), but this time the result is mundane and very easy to categorize. "Dream Cruise" is typical & derivative J-Horror, so unfortunately you already know what to expect: a clichéd plot about ghosts from the past, vengeance from beyond the grave and ghastly appearances that disappear again as quick as the come. "Dream Cruise" is a crossover between "Dead Calm", albeit just regarding the setting and line-up of characters, and the original "Ringu", from which this story shamelessly borrows all the main aspects and even some of the most essential frights & make-up effects. The American attorney Jack Miller has been working in Japan since two years and he even managed to secretly steal the beautiful wife away from his general manager. The latter found out about their relationship, however, and plots to get rid of them both during a touristy cruise on his yacht. Jack accepts the invitation reluctantly, because he's terrified of the sea due to a childhood trauma, but Eiji's diabolical plan doesn't really go as planned, neither, because he as well faces an unexpected ghost from the past. The script direly moves from one clichéd situation to the next and the three main characters are genuine stereotypes whose every next move and line of text you can predict light-years in advance. The supposedly surprising ending is terribly irritating, too, and people who're familiar with ghost stories are able to guess the outcome since the opening sequence already. The make-up effects on the watery ghosts would be creepy and unsettling, if it hadn't been for the fact we already seen similar stuff in "Ringu", "Ju-On: The Grudge", "Phone", etc "Dream Cruise" is undoubtedly the worst entry in season two and my personal vote for the most lackluster one of the entire show.
Absolutely terrified of the sea, an American lawyer reluctantly goes on
an ocean cruise to be near the wife of a client, with no idea of the
grim situation that awaits them all.
This film was made by people involved in the making of "The Grudge", "The Ring" and "Dark Water", so if you appreciate these films in any way you are already on the right page for enjoying this story. And as far as stories go, this one is alright. (Is it out of coincidence that both first and second season placed the Asian horror episode last? Would season 3 have been the same?)
This film worked precisely because it was an Asian horror film. That might seem an odd thing to say, but I will try to explain. In American horror films, things need explanations. Even if they are really abstract, American audiences expect some sort of logic behind what they see. Asian films (Japanese in particular) are more loose with this. Strange things just happen, and we are supposed to go along with it. People get possessed, reincarnated, spirits float around and this is normal. But American films cannot do this without trying to create elaborate back story.
All the acting is fine, although the woman seemed very odd. I think this was more due to her English rather than her acting, but she was an awkward character. There is also a subplot of infidelity that seems to be a driving force, but I was not clear on how it all tied in. You can draw your own conclusions, as some of the evidence one way or the other is not till much later in the story and I will not reveal it.
Asian horror, and this one is no exception, is also good at leaving disturbing images in your mind. "The Eye" did this, "The Ring" as well (at least the first American film, not the second). There is a spirit in this movie that is just really creepy and in real life would scare me half to death. While American films tend to have decent gore (on occasion) they do not often leave you feeling grossed out (with "The Sixth Sense" being an exception that comes to mind).
"Dream Cruise" was a worthy finish for the second season. Strong story, decent characters and a distinctly unique feel. Perhaps not the best episode, but far from the worst.
The DVD is well worth picking up. Although the case says it is 60 minutes, that is incorrect -- you actually get the full 90 minutes that were shown in Japanese theaters, which adds something more. You also get a great audio commentary, where Mick Garris explains how he sees himself as a "cheerleader" and has no influence on the production.
Unfortunately, there is no director commentary -- he speaks no English, which makes such a commentary difficult for American releases. Do they make subtitled commentaries? But if you think about this language barrier, it makes the film even more interesting -- the principal actor speaks no Japanese, so the director had to have complete faith that lines were being delivered correctly. And it works. Somehow it works.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Masters of Horror: Dream Cruise is set in Japan where American lawyer
Jack Miller (Daniel Gillies) has a business meeting with a client named
Eiji Sato (Ryo Ishibashi), Eiji insists they conduct their meeting
on-board his yacht along with his wife Yuri (Yoshino Kimura). Jack has
a problem with water as while he was a child he saw his brother Shawn
(Ethan Amis) drown in a boating accident but he agrees to go anyway,
once out in the open ocean Eiji starts to behave strangely taking them
all further & further away from the coast & into the isolation of the
sea. Then suddenly the yacht comes to a grinding halt as something has
stuck to the propeller's, Eiji goes down to take a look at which point
dark secrets return to haunt the three passengers...
This Canadian, American & Japanese co-production was episode 13 from season 2 of the hit-and-miss Masters of Horror TV series, written & directed by Norio Tsuruta I didn't think Dream Cruise was anything special & overall a bit of a miss. The script was based on a story by Koji Suzuki who was responsible for the Asian horror Ringu & is your average ghost story so in that respect it holds no real surprises & is quite predictable. The storytelling & narrative are poor, why was Eiji taking them so far out into the middle of the ocean? Definitely not for what ended up happening that's for sure. The subplot about Jack's brother drowning is rammed into our faces at every opportunity & it becomes tiresome. I really hated the ending too, everything works out fine & way-hey Jack isn't afraid of the water anymore! Couldn't they have come up with something a bit better? This one moves along at a reasonable pace but it's hardly edge of your seat stuff, the character's are totally forgettable as is the dialogue which switches between English & Japanese. Dream Cruise just felt all wrong to me & while it was alright there are better Masters of Horror episodes.
Director Tsuruta is someone I've personally never heard of but looking at his bio on the IMDb he seems to have made several straight-to-video titles & TV episodes within the horror genre although none of them are familiar to me. You know while watching Dream Cruise & knowing it was Japanese I sat there thinking so where's the long haired ghostly figure who moves in a funny way like those seen in the Ringu (1998) & The Grudge (2000) series of horror films & do you know what? My prediction was spot on as there is indeed a creepy long haired woman who moves in an odd way, oh dear been there, seen it before & brought the T-shirt. There's a few scares here that might make you jump but other than that there's little here to give you goosebumps. There's not much gore either, someone's arm falls off for no apparent reason & conveniently the arm of his jumper becomes detached at the same point too & there's a shot of someone with half their head missing but that's it.
Technically I'd put Dream Cruise slightly below the usual Masters of Horror episode, it looks very bland & forgettable almost like a TV soap opera, there's no style or visual flair here & just looks plain cheap. The acting is alright although you suspect the use of English by Japanese & the casting of an American alongside two Japanese actor's was down to this being made to be shown in the US.
Dream Cruise is an OK way to pass 60 odd minutes I suppose, I personally didn't like it that much though. Yet another disappointing Masters of Horror & not a good way to end the second season which overall hasn't been great, will there be a season three?
As a "Masters of Horror" episode, "Dream Cruise" has one distinct
advantage over all the others; It's longer, clocking in at about 83
minutes instead of the hour long format we're used from other eps. This
is used to good advantage as the film gradually builds up to a rather
Now I'm no expert in Japanese horror but the ones I've seen are somewhat similar. I'll give them one thing; They're sure good at creating creepy ghosts. One scene here made me spill my beverage all over myself (maybe I should have seen it coming but I didn't). The same thing happened with "Ringu", it's damn creepy. Not horrifying but immensely creepy. "Dream Cruise" is pretty creepy as well once it gets going.
Now, the feature length aspect really helps the film. Some of the best "Masters of Horror" episodes really cry out for feature length treatment, "Cigarette Burns" and "Deer Woman" could easily have been stretched out with good results. "Dream Cruise" doesn't really kick into high gear until 50 minutes in but a fair amount of mood and atmosphere has been established up to that point.
Finally I must compliment the makers here for that insanely creepy ghost. Towards the end I was feeling rather uncomfortable and all in all I was quite pleased with "Dream Cruise". Not the top of the cream in "Masters of Horror" but a solid entry.
J-Horror's career can be summed up by the audience's potential fright at being confronted by the righteously malcontent spirits attempting to breach their world for ours. However, visions of decrepit, deformed stringy-haired Asian women slowly reaching out to take our lives is no longer anything haunting because of their ubiquity in the early 2000's. Therefore, it'll have to take a memorable narrative twist, or unique emotional characterizations to be affected by their work. Neither are found in this exercise because of the director's erratic tendency to play temporal puppetmaster whenever he sees fit. The lack of faith I placed on the director's control of what is dream/what is reality led my mind astray and distracted me from the strengths of the singular setting. You get bits and pieces of the three main characters lives...but nothing sincere enough to create a lasting impression. Also, I found Ryo Ishibashi's acting to be cheap and second-rate though his character's breakdown is less involving and more two-dimensional than the other two leads. The film-making and the eerie green colors reflecting the malevolent spirit is fine...but the storytelling's too shoddy and incomplete to matter. An addition of western/genre plot reveals would have added more pleasure to this experience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was pretty disappointed in the adaptation which is wholly unlike the
story that is in the Dark Water collection. I wasn't asking for a
faithful adaptation, it just was not what I was expecting. Also, I
wasn't too terribly fond of Daniel Gillies' performance, but the
Japanese cast were very good (yay for Ishibashi Ryo!) I give the film
an eight simply because Tsuruta-san knows how to work the ghost angle
and the Naomi stuff is really good. She's just enough of Yamamura
Sadako to bring a smile to a knowing fan's face and is chilling enough
to leave an impression on a casual viewer. The CGI enhancements were
subtle and effective...the first time I think I've ever been able to
say that about supplemental digital effects...and the practical make-up
Not a bad entry in the series, but I think it should have aired earlier in the run.
The Japanese entry in the series and yes it's all about vengeful ghosts
and yes we do see, sigh, a lot of hair attacking and yes we do have a
creepy ghost but no this isn't good.
First of all it's a slow builder and secondly the story doesn't grow or stick together. It all starts when Jack, in his teens see his brother drowning before his eyes and there's nothing he can do. We see Jack having nightmares about that fact but it's so stupid like the cap in the sink, that was just awful. Then we move further to the fact that the grown up Jack works in Japan and is having an affair with a client's wife. When the husband needs Jack to solve a problem he asks his wife Yuri together with Jack on board of his yacht to solve the problem, but of course he intend to kill them both because he's aware of the affair.
The fact that Jack's brother is being killed by water makes him afraid of going on sea, but he does, once on the yacht he's the big hero, no problems of any kind. Still it's a lot of blah blah before things go wrong but when it does it's all off-camera. Then of course the yacht breaks down and in comes the hair. Guess who, Naomi, Eiji's earlier wife. The only thing that looked creepy was her ghost. But by then it was all too late.
This was for me the worst entry in season 2 and this was also the final entry. I thought a lot of Dead Calm (1989) but with a twist of a ghost. Even the ending with Jack's brother returning in the water looked stupid. No, I wont board in again to this cruise.
Gore 0/5 Nudity 0/5 Effects 2/5 Story 2/5 Comedy 0/5
I was surprised when I watched this episode (on DVD), that it's running
time, almost hit the 90 minute mark. Generally the episodes don't even
hit the hour mark, so for an episode to be that long, it was unusual to
say the least! But longer=better does not really apply to that episode.
Quite a few will say the exact opposite.
And while there has been quite a few J-Horror movies around to satisfy most people, many have already started to get annoyed by them. The actors in this are not exactly helping. Though the Japanese lead man, is very well known (I have seen him in a couple of movies), he can't help this episode rise and be great.
Still, there is something to the story, that I really liked. And despite it's many flaws (many mentioned above, from acting, to length, to also predictability), it has something unique. While it can't shake it's (TV)roots off, this still might be something for you, if you can accept the slow build-up.
While the first episode contributed by a Japanese Director, Takashi Miike's "Imprint" (Season 1, Episode 13) stands out as the absolute highlight of the entire "Masters Of Horror" series, this thirteenth episode of the second season, and second 'Japanese' MoH episode, Norio Tsuruta's "Dream Cruise" is mediocre at best. While one has to admit that "Dream Cruise" delivers acting talent, atmosphere and even genuine creepiness, the episode completely lacks one important element - originality. An avid lover of Japanese cinema, I am personally still not too fond of the majority of the recent Horror-output of this great cinematic country. There are many exceptions, of course (such as Miike's Horror films), but it seems that ever since the doubtlessly original "Ringu" had such huge success, the same formula has been repeated to a tiresome degree. And seeing "Dream Cruise" is just another repetition of the countless "Ringu"-clones, many of which instantaneously get remade as annoying Hollywood blockbusters. While the episode definitely has its creepy moments, everyone familiar with recent Japanes Horror films will inevitably have the impression to have seen it all before. Japanese Businessman Eiji (Ryo Ishibashi) takes his wife Yuri (Yoshino Kimura) and his American business-partner Jack (Daniel Gillies), who is also Yuri's lover, on a cruise. While the wife and the business-partner are not sure whether or not the husband knows about their relationship, the luxurious Yacht also seems to be haunted by something else... As stated before, the episode has its moments and the imagery is often chillingly creepy, but the lack of originality still lessens this one's value a lot. Ryo Ishibashi, who is probably best known for his role in Takashi Miike's "Audition" (1999), is a brilliant actor and he is once again great here, as is beautiful Yoshino Kimura as his wife. I can't say Daniel Gilles' performance impressed me, but he wasn't bad either. The greatest praise has to go to Miho Ninagawa, who is incredibly creepy in her role. Still, this does not entirely save this. The lack of originality is tiresome, and there is a stupidly sentimental sub-plot which annoyed the hell out of me. Even so, this is worthwhile for fans of the series.
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