Kyoichi Kagenuma is a young man whose life differs alot from your ordinary person. He is called the "Nightmare Detective" for his ability to get inside of people's heads and literally enter their dreams and nightmares. He has to live day in and day out with people coming to him to get him to help them rid of their nightmares. But this time around, Kyoichi Kagenuma is haunted by his own memories and nightmares and when he begins to help a schoolgirl, his own problems get in the way.
The first "Nightmare Detective" is a remarkable Japanese horror movie with some really surreal moments while still maintaining a pretty straight forward horror story. To someone like me who doesn't really bother too much with Asian horror, it was with great surprise I watched the first one after having it recommended to me. Ever since I saw it I couldn't be more excited about finding the sequel. If there was one thing that the first one missed out on, it was dwelling deeper into the main character, Kyoichi Kagenuma, the Nightmare Detective. He was a very interesting character from the get go, as he wasn't the standard macho hero, but instead he was a total wreck that you could sympathize with. In the sequel, we learn alot about his past and his own nightmares, and that alone makes this film worth watching.
Taking place a while after the first one (God knows how long?), this one brings us back to our hero from the first film, Kyoichi Kagenuma, but takes it a step further by going deeper into his own life and personality. There is a brand new plot, completely unrelated to the suicide plot in the first one, about a group of schoolgirls who are haunted in their dreams by a girl they were mean to. What also differs this from the first is that this is really just the B plot, this time around I consider the A plot to be about Kyoichi. Part of it being that we get to see his nightmares that shows his mother being scared by his ability to look into people's minds. What the first one missed out on plotwise, this one fixed, basicly. But this is also where I think the flaws are. Because the first one was so focused on the plot of the suicides, and less on our hero, it made for a better horror movie and definitely alot more horrific moments, and it also maintained a more standard Tsukamoto-style, unlike this sequel that is definitely alot more mainstream friendly. Not to mention that it works as a stand-alone film for those who hasn't seen the first (but you should of course watch the first too).
By the end of it, I couldn't get into this film as much plotwise as I did with the first, and I also didn't feel that this was as much of a horror movie, but rather a drama with horror. It wasn't until the end that it turned into a more full-blown horror film, and I will admit that it ended up with some genuinely creepy moments, my favorite being the parade of dead kids while a scary dog mutant-ish is snapping at the camera from time to time. There are some real horror-esque scenes through-out the movie, just never enough for me to label it horror until the end.
The effects are great though, even though there is alot of CGI effects, they are performed with caution. From interviews it seems like Shinya Tsukamoto doesn't rely on computer effects unless he feels it's needed for the scene, and I think this shows in a film like this where most of the effects are in fact CGI. I'd even go as far as say that the effects are good enough to come off as good old special effects/props. That being said, the first one had alot more juicy and bloody scenes, but that's understandable with the story here since this is alot slower and more creepy than it is about murders and horror.
This is one of Shinya Tsukamoto's weaker efforts, but coming from a huge fan like myself that's still saying that this is a good film. I'm sure anyone could get into it, not just fans of his other stuff, since it's pretty mainstream friendly and the story is solid. There are typical Tsukamoto vibes here, as there will always be in his work, but it's not as hard hitting and he definitely toned down the visual experience that his films usually have. The first film was also leaning towards a mainstream audience, but still being a very clear Tsukamoto film at the same time. This went a little further away. But you will be confused, like always in his films, that's still here. Shinya Tsukamoto never let's you calm down once he has it all started, and you will really have no clue when the movie will end because it just keeps on going. For good and for bad.