Filmed in 1994 as BEYOND BEDLAM, this is an uneven but creepily crafted venture into dreams-vs.-reality territory.
While looking into the death of a man on fire who plunged from his apartment window, detective Terry Hamilton (Craig Fairbrass) is puzzled to discover no evidence of burns in the victim's flat. After an old woman in the same building also commits suicide, Hamilton's investigation leads him to Dr.
Stephanie Lyell (Elizabeth Hurley), who has been experimenting on an imprisoned maniac named Marc Gilmour (Keith Allen) with mind-altering drugs. Gilmour, whose previous victims included Hamilton's wife, has gained the ability to invade and manipulate the dreams of others and is responsible for
the mysterious deaths.
Soon, Hamilton and Lyell become trapped inside the mindscape of Gilmour's twisted psyche, where they are confronted and threatened by figures from their past. Preying on their guilts and fears, the specters encourage each to kill themselves, but Hamilton resists and also stops Lyell from jumping
to her death. Ultimately, Gilmour physically confronts the two, and after a terrible fight in which the murderer rises twice from seeming defeat, he is impaled and apparently killed. But then his body disappears...
Although it's no worse than many American-made low-budget chillers, and in fact better than many, this British production remained unreleased in the U.S. until actor Hugh Grant's scandalous escapade with a prostitute made his girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley a household (or at least tabloid) name. TV
news-magazines attempted to play up Hurley's "revealing" role in NIGHTSCARE, but in fact her character never gets involved in anything particularly risque; indeed, the only major sex scene takes place in the old woman's dream before she hangs herself. Hurley's actual performance is
undistinguished, with Fairbrass more compelling as the cop who can't believe she's using Gilmour as a guinea pig. As the dream-twisting killer, Allen makes by far the strongest impression; though there are inevitable echoes of Hannibal Lecter in his work, he resists the urge to go for Anthony
Hopkins' brand of charming evil and remains credibly scary throughout.
It's a shame, though, that after all the mind games of the first 70 minutes or so, Gilmour becomes a flesh-and-blood madman at the climax and the movie devolves into just another knock-down drag-out fight scene, in which (of course) the psycho leaps back up repeatedly after supposedly biting the
dust. Up until this point, director Vadim Jean (whose only previous film was the comedy LEON THE PIG FARMER) creates some eerie effects on a low budget, eschewing complex, unaffordable optical tricks in favor of evocative lighting and camerawork. Though its endless bag of surreal tricks forfeits
the identifiability that makes the best horror films work, NIGHTSCARE does have its share of frights and (like its villain) has a little bit more on its mind than one might expect.(Graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: Filmed in 1994 as BEYOND BEDLAM, this is an uneven but creepily crafted venture into dreams-vs.-reality territory. While looking into the death of a man on fire who plunged from his apartment window, detective Terry Hamilton (Craig Fairbrass) is puzzled t… (more)