Fantasia 2019 Review: BRUCE MCDONALD’S DREAMLAND Is Full Of Empty Fun

Don’t think about it too hard.

As the title might give away, Bruce McDonald’s Dreamland is a dream logic movie. You may watch it and add it all up in your head and come up with theories about what’s actually going on. That stuff can be fun, but I’m just going to tell you right now: I saw the Q&A for this movie and any amount of time you put into “solving” Bruce McDonald’s Dreamland will be more than was given by Bruce McDonald. As the title might give away, it’s his movie.

This isn’t exactly a bad thing. While perhaps unsatisfying, there is a lot of pleasure to be found occasionally bubbling to the film’s surface. Henry Rollins and Juliette Lewis are having a blast, basically playing cartoon characters. You get to see Stephen McHattie speak very slowly as two different characters - one a heroin-addicted jazz musician, the other an assassin. There are many moments of logic-defying hilarity throughout. In its dreamy way, the film has no problem just throwing vampires and a gang of gun-toting children into the mix to see what sticks. Why not? None of it matters, so you might as well have some fun.

The plot involves an assassin who discovers his employer has moved into the business of selling children into sexual slavery. He tries his best to stop that from continuing. Meanwhile, a jazz legend is playing trumpet at a wedding down the street where a vampire (Tómas Lemarquis, who leers and licks the air a lot) is marrying one of these children. Everyone sort of comes together in the end for a big, bloody finale.

I don’t think Bruce McDonald's Dreamland is awful, necessarily, but it is shocking the same director and writer (Tony Burgess, though this one was co-written by Patrick Whistler) also made Pontypool ten years ago. That film is a miracle stew of writing, direction and performance. This is just undisciplined silliness. It has the air of something important going on (death! doubles! evil! redemption!), but don’t think about it too hard.

If you can hang with that, your reward is a whole lot of Stephen McHattie, angry Henry Rollins, a raving Juliette Lewis and some really great jokes involving a couple of pawn shop owners. Bruce McDonald’s Dreamland doesn’t offer much, but it certainly offers that, with a vampire and killer children thrown in the mix as well. They say you’re not supposed to turn off your brain during movies. It might be okay with this one.