A beautifully constructed hedonistic nightmare
Fever Dream is a cerebrally charged, creepy and hedonistic nightmare that’s as much a thriller as it is a horror. Unlike last year’s garbled narrative mess, I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, Fever Dream backs up its creepy imagery and bizarre narrative threads with a hard-hitting third act that hits you right in the gut.
The story here follows a young mother called Amanda and her daughter Nina. Together, they find themselves in a small village in Chile where all is not what it seems. Narration between Amanda and her neighbour Carola’s son David sheds more light about what’s happening, as dark secrets are slowly unveiled.
The story is as much a tale about maternal love as it is one uncovering an invisible terror across town, combining to create one of the more unique Netflix original movies in quite some time. Of course, given the film’s unique indie appeal and slow pacing, this isn’t likely to be a picture with broad mainstream appeal. For those who stick with this one though, there’s a lot to like.
There are numerous symbolic references throughout, with water playing a key part in both the narrative and the overall themes showcased in the film. Both of these combine with a haunting soundtrack and some good acting all round to flesh out this trippy film.
The narrative threads tying everything together reinforce Fever’s dream idea of this being, well, a fever dream. There are numerous occasions where you’ll find yourself questioning whether what you’re seeing is actually real or just a hypnotic hallucination, with a combination of jump scares, long, drawn out scenes and unsettling supporting characters you can never quite figure out.
Perhaps the most striking image of them all though comes around the midway point of the movie. Within this, Carola’s husband Omar tends to his horses but the scene is bathed in silhouettes. The camera aligns to make it seem like he’s a centaur. Now, symbolically centaurs represent merging physical aspects of one’s self with mental and spiritual wellbeing – key parts of this film’s narrative. I won’t go into spoiler territory but suffice to say the ending here is pretty shocking.
Fever Dream won’t be for everyone and it’s undoubtedly a movie that critics will absolutely love and audiences will be more conflicted over. There are a lot of symbolic references, clever camera work, beautifully evocative images and plenty of slow-burn scenes that chew on the scenery.
Despite being less than 90 minutes, the movie sometimes feels like double that length at times, partly thanks to its slow pace and partly due to its characters, who are a bit of a mixed bag. If you can stick with it though, Fever Dream rewards your patience with a decent pay-off at the end.
Read More: Fever Dream Ending Explained