Review: ‘Like a Bad Dream’

Two men, one war-weary and the other an idealistic college student, traverse their own separate but intersecting hells in "Like a Bad Dream." The reels of dismal imagery unspooled here spring less from the dark night of the soul than from the underlit imagination of the filmmaker.

Two men, one war-weary (Miki Manojlovic) and the other an idealistic college student (Ertan Shaban), traverse their own separate but intersecting hells in “Like a Bad Dream.” Croatian helmer Antonio Mitrikeski has even imported Robert Englund from New Line’s Elm Street “Nightmare” franchise for pic, but the reels of dismal imagery unspooled here spring less from the dark night of the soul than from the underlit imagination of the filmmaker. Distrib chances look dim for this Balkan downer.

Pic starts promisingly, thanks to the extraordinary presence of virtuoso thesp Manojlovic (“Underground,” “Cabaret Balkan,” “Criminal Lovers”) striding through the Croatian countryside. A tender lovemaking scene between Manojlovic and his medievally ethereal wife (Iskra Veterova) slowly turns brutal, literally bringing home the dehumanization of war. Manojlovic’s sad/demonic face serves as a fitting summation of what has become of former Yugoslavia. But helmer Mitrikeski’s taste for brooding angst soon bogs down in a garishly dreary Faustian tale of soulless professor Englund (as a gay Mephistopheles) and his innocent young Macedonian acolyte. The soundtrack sounds like one long lamentation.

Like a Bad Dream

Republic of Macedonia-Croatia

Production

A Sector Film, Horizont Film, Mainframe production in association with Gama Studio. Produced by Igor Aleksander Nola, Vladimir Anastasov. Executive producers, Nola, Anastasov, Antonio Mitrikeski. Directed by Antonio Mitrikeski. Screenplay, Mitrikeski, Dejan Dukovski, Damiela Mitrikeska, based on the play "Who the F... Started All This?" by Dukovski.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jaroslav Szoda; editor, Andrija Zafranovich. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Sept. 2, 2003. Croatian, English dialogue. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Robert Englund, Miki Manojlovic, Iskra Veterova, Ertan Shaban.
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