★★★★ Directed by: K. Spencer Jones, Jake Wilkens Written by: Jake Wilkens Starring: Marcus Coloma, Stephanie Scholz, Anton David Jeftha Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
After seeing filmmaker K. Spencer Jones's impressive short drama The Human Project, I was eager to see what happens when he teams up with writer Jake Wilkens (who also co-directs) here with a horror movie with a completely different tone. The result is A Thing of Dreams, an intensely compelling and dark take on the human condition.
John (Marcus Coloma) and his partner Mallory (Stephanie Scholz) are a seemingly content couple, whose journey through life seems to have been enhanced by a new drug on the market. Nothing illegal, this is a prescription pill that allows you to induce dreams and take more control over the content.
Over breakfast, John reveals his fairly innocuous nighttime reel of winning an “ambiguous award” but is thrown a curve ball when Malory, who has been utilising sexual inducers, admits that her naughty slumber does not feature John (as he had expected). Unable to control his rage, John lays down an ultimatum; that Mallory must clear her slate by mixing sexual and nightmare inducers, in order to rid herself of these unfaithful fancies.
A marvelous exploration of the human condition and the ghoulish elephant in the room that is our subconscious, Jones and Wilkens maintain a gripping atmosphere. There is tension and conflict aplenty and given the story's combination of reality and dream, the audience is kept in a permanent state of unease which is essential to lend gravitas to the final, horror-based third.
Scholz turns in a believable portrayal of the put-upon partner whose only “crime” is finding her neighbor (Anton David Jeftha - billed as the “handsome man”) attractive. Her delivery felt a little wooden and underwhelming next to Coloma, whose commanding and menacing screen presence was excellent. Together, the chemistry worked well and the viewer cannot help but care, and pray, for the relationship of the characters.
Similar to The Human Project, the scenes are mostly darkly lit and a little foreboding. During one sequence, Mallory reads a book in her living room in semi-darkness. The possible implication being that if we had the power to shape our dreams, would the reality of life, in this situation a broken relationship, appear dull, drab, or even nightmarish? The thought-provoking aspects of A Thing of Dreams are superb and one of several reasons why audiences should seek this short film out.