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"Dream Demon" follows Diana, a Londoner about to be married to a prominent man, who is suffering from disturbing nightmares after having moved in to her new house. She soon meets Jenny, a tourist from Los Angeles who claims Diana's new home was her biological parents' last address; she has no memories of her parents or her early years spent there, but feels drawn to them. Diana's powerful and terrifying dreams begin to impact reality, and the two women begin to delve into the home's history and Jenny's connection to it.
A relatively unknown British-set offering by American director Harley Cokeliss, "Dream Demon" is in the same league as a number of over-the-top supernatural horror films from the late 1980s, such as "Night of the Demons," "Mirror, Mirror," and "Witchboard" (the latter of which Kathleen Wilhoite, portraying Jenny here, also appeared in). The distinction with "Dream Demon" is that the film has a particularly English bent to it that borders on gothic at times.
Another distinguishing element here, and perhaps the film's most interesting feature, is that it toys with narrative quite cleverly as Diana's grasp on reality begins to tunnel in on itself, to the point that she (and eventually Jenny) cannot discern waking life from Diana's lethal slumber. There are elements redolent of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" in this case--Diana's dreams begin to impact her physical environment, endangering those around her (including a pair of crude journalists harassing her). Though not the most original idea, it is orchestrated nicely here, and keeps the viewer on their toes as the two characters venture through a topsy-turvy world.
Jemma Redgrave turns in a solid and understated performance here as the tormented Diana, and Kathleen Wilhoite offers a spunky performance as the mouthy California punkster who joins her. Things start to coalesce in the final act of the film, and the fragments from Diana's dreams begin to paint a picture of why the two women have been united in the first place. Though not really a twist per se, the revelation feels appropriate and I left the film satisfied despite a few loose ends.
Overall, "Dream Demon" is worth a viewing for fans of late '80s supernatural films, as it features a similar aesthetic and premise to its peers. The English bent adds a distinct flavor, while the screenplay is clever, if not entirely perfect. Recommended for genre fans. 8/10.
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