DREAMLAND (2019) reviews and overview

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‘Escape from despair into a world of madness’

Dreamland is a 2019 genre-blending feature film about a gang boss that hires a killer to bring him the finger of a fading, drug-addicted jazz legend.

Directed by Bruce McDonald (Hellions; Pontypool) from a screenplay written by Tony Burgess and Patrick Whistler, the movie stars Stephen McHattie (Come to Daddy; Z; Rabid, et al), Juliette Lewis, Henry Rollins and Tómas Lemarquis.


Dreamland premiered at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival on 14th April 2019. Bulldog Films released the film on DVD in the UK on 13th April 2020.

In the USA, Dreamland is released On-demand and Digital on June 5th 2020.


“Garish nightclubs merge with dispiriting city streets and homicidal pawnbroker’s wives aid against gun-toting boy gangs, but the image of McHattie’s face—either as the haunted gunman or the wryly smiling maestro—dominates. And once again I find myself making this sound heavy. I suppose that heavy it may be; but it is also, one might say, dreamy.” 366 Weird Movies

“I suppose that one person’s ‘genre-bending’ (as Dreamland has oft been described) is another person’s ‘all over the place’ and I found it to self consciously quirky for my taste. MacHattie does well in the dual roles and it looks pretty good, but I just couldn’t warm to this one.” Bloody Flicks

“There’s no doubt Bruce McDonald had a particular vision in mind for his Dreamland and there’s also no doubt that it’s not going to work for everyone. Stephen McHattie anchors a game cast, though, and while it doesn’t quite nail everything, it’s moody and offbeat enough to make it worth a watch. Recommended, with caveats…” CineDump

“Like its namesake environment, Dreamland deals in flashbacks, random cutaways to innocuous imagery, and nonsense bits of narrative. Rather than resulting in David Lynchian disorientation however, Dreamland’s jargon juggles a bunch of jumbled pieces that make a mess more than they ever mesh.” Culture Crypt

” …a peculiar, genre-fluid experience that intertwines black comedy with its need to bend your mind like a cinematic acid trip. Everything about the film is a puzzle that few will even attempt to solve, but the ride is still a very intriguing one. Never overstaying its welcome, and bolstering its languid mood with an incredible score and stunning visual splendor, Dreamland defies reason in Haute style…” Cryptic Rock

“Though the film takes its time (and will doubtless be too slow for some), there’s a sense of primal things shifting beneath its surface. Its eccentricity is, after all, just a coded way of talking about much darker things, and bright red splashed of blood or wine remind us of how all such dances eventually end.” Eye for Film

“The odds are that you haven’t seen a movie quite like this before, and that promise of a unique experience could be enough to draw a lot of people in. Dreamland presents a singular vision, brought into reality with enthusiasm from all involved. It’s most assuredly not for everyone, but McDonald’s commitment to telling his story in his voice are sure to win it some fans.” Goomba Stomp

Gruesome magazine review:

Dreamland is a classic example of a pre-packaged, “just add water”, wannabe cult movie, filled with “quirky” and “eccentric” characters and low on story or thematic depth. McDonald throws in eccentricities like casting McHattie in dual roles for no real discernible purpose, having children play hitmen and pulling a vampire out of the film’s ass in a final act of desperation. But it all feels shallow…” The Movie Waffler

“Like a Lynch film, there’s no use in trying to find the symbolism in the strange moments of Dreamland. Stop trying to make sense of everything. Just. Be. Cool. Slip away into this drug trip and enjoy the violent hallucinations that unfold before your eyes. It’s a jazzy, character-driven experience…” Nightmare on Film Street

“Along with McDonald’s soundscape, it all makes for an exhilarating take on the hitman movie, where violence is not a cynical reliance but a poetic expression in the larger narrative scope, and where style jazzes up a log-line that only sounds like you’ve seen it before.” RogerEbert.com

“An absurdly hypnotic hodgepodge of violent escapism would never be for everyone’s taste, but Dreamland is blazingly, almost foolhardily, committed to what it is, and absent of cynicism or anything to prove. It is a cinema-frappé of dream logic, and yet retains coherence because the visual language is familiar.” Screen Anarchy

“The European locations and production design that mixes vintage noir with modern technology add to that unreality. Whether it feels like a dream, a drug trip or a nightmare is up to the individual viewer […] A lot of folks will find it too weird for their tastes, and I can understand that. I loved it, and given the chance, you might too.” Voices from the Balcony

“In their own projects, director Bruce McDonald and screenwriter Tony Burgess have been guilty of failing to organzine ideas into a concrete concept, but they really make fools out of themselves in Dreamland.  And because the film is a mess, the usually dependable McHattie suffers.” Wylie Writes

Cast and characters:

Juliette Lewis … Countess
Stephen McHattie … Trumpet Player / Johnny
Henry Rollins … Hercules
Tómas Lemarquis … Vampire
Lisa Houle … Lisa
Hana Sofia Lopes … Colero
Barbara Hellemans … Jihadi
Guillaume Kerbusch … Fegelein (as Guillaume Kerbush)
Astrid Roos … Sugar
Stéphane Bissot … Vera
Daphné Huynh … Cabaret Dancer
Aymeric Harter … BodyGuard
Éric Gigout … Limousine Driver Murdered
Julian Nest … Wino
Jean-Marc André … Tailor

Technical details:

92 minutes

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