Book of Dreams - Welcome to Crateland

Book of Dreams - Welcome to Crateland
Made in: Australia, UK
Language: English
Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: Tiffany Powles, Steve Ostrow, Angela Cockburn, Erika Tucha, Tony Woollams
Year: 1994

Synopsis: Shot in black and white, the story is told from the point of Mona (Tiffany Powles), a young woman who occasionally puffs on a cigarette. She speaks directly to the viewer, sitting in front of a dark background under a dim light.

Mona recounts an odd dream about being taken from her bedroom by an elderly gunman (Steve Ostrow), and carried away in a large wooden crate.

Shortly afterwards, Mona arrives at some sort of industrial facility. Then, the crate mysteriously expands into a labyrinth. From there, she feels compelled to escape while trying to make sense of the bizarre situation.

Remarks: Book of Dreams - Welcome to Crateland is a short film that director Alex Proyas screened at the Cannes Film Festival back in 1994. Around the same time, Proyas went on to direct The Crow, starring Brandon Lee. And several years later he made the films Dark City and I, Robot.

The lighting and sound work of this project is somewhat reminiscent of Dark City, and the narrative progresses in a way that held my interest. As weird as Mona's dream was, I was eager to see where it would all lead.

Unfortunately, the story sort of ends abruptly. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be part of a series, or if I happened to miss something. But as it stands, Alex Proyas did great job with setting up an intriguing atmosphere through lighting, camera work, and simple but haunting visuals.

Obviously completed on a much lower budget than his feature films, this short somewhat has the feel of a film school project, albeit a very well executed one. And its surreal quality made me think of David Lynch during some moments. Book of Dreams definitely feels like an unsettling dream, and there are hints all throughout that point to some sort of psychological explanation.

But the story ends just as it starts to become really interesting.

The entire short film is posted above so you can see for yourself.

(3 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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