Long Dream isn’t a great movie, but it takes an intriguing idea and plays it out in a way that makes me curious for a more ambitious adaptation of the same source material. The movie was inspired by a manga by Junji Ito, he of Uzumaki and Gyo, and was directed by the same man who gave us a filmed version of Uzumaki, Higuchinski. The director’s affinity for the original author/artist’s ideas inspired him to do good work on a tiny budget — the whole thing’s a direct-to-video product and it shows — but this feels like a test run for something far larger.
Tucked away inside one of the wards of a private medical clinic is a patient with a most unusual illness: he’s having dreams which feel progressively longer. One night’s dream might feel to him like several days in real life, or even a week. Eventually the dreams grow to months, years, decades, and even more — and the patient begins to undergo ghastly changes, a by-product of spending centuries in a kind of alternate time. Then one of the other doctors in the clinic hits on the idea of artificially inducing the same state in someone else … for instance, himself, as a way to reunite himself with his dead girlfriend, whom he imagines is waiting just behind the wall of sleep.
Again, it’s an elegant little idea, and they explore as much as they can with it in the space of an hour and with a modest budget. The makeup effects are deliberately over-the-top and look exactly like Ito’s signature monster designs, and I admired the little design touches like how the patient’s handwriting on the wall regresses to Jomon-era pictographs as his dreamtime stretches into the hundreds and thousands of years. What’s tantalizing is how the ideas mentioned could easily give rise to something far more ambitious than just a Twilight Zone episode, which is more or less what we get right down to the twist ending. I’d love more, if that's not too much to ask.