Dream Scenario is the new Nightmare on Elm Street

Have you had a weird dream about Nicholas Cage? Don't worry you're not alone.

2023 Toronto International Film Festival - "Dream Scenario" Premiere
2023 Toronto International Film Festival - "Dream Scenario" Premiere / Matt Winkelmeyer/GettyImages

You may have missed the theatrical release of 2023's Dream Scenario starring Nicholas Cage, but not to worry the movie is now streaming on Max. I stumbled upon this movie in the horror section on Max and I remember seeing the trailer and thinking, "huh Nicholas Cage in a horror movie? Yes please." This horror/comedy/fantasy produced by A24 was everything I could want in a movie. Dream Scenario is fun, weird, sad, confusing, and scary at times. 

Dream Scenario is about Paul Matthews and his struggle with a ‘normal’ life. Paul is a professor and just wants to write his book about his biological research. However, people begin to stop in their tracks to tell him he has appeared in their dreams and suddenly everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) is dreaming about Paul. The common thread of these dreams is that Paul is just standing there and doesn’t actually do anything. This reflects in his real life as he has yet to achieve something of value, like write the book he's been meaning to for years now. As people around the world dream of Paul, he gains mass popularity and is even sought after for brand deals. Paul doesn’t want to promote Sprite or any other brands because he realizes he can’t control the dreams of others, so instead he asks if they can help him get his book published. At the brand company he meets Molly who had a particularly odd dream about Paul and she asks if they can recreate her uncomfortable dream. After the recreation goes poorly the dreams begin to take a dark turn. Instead of Paul being a bystander in dreams he is now the source of everyone's nightmares, even as far as killing people in horrific ways. The dreams become so bad and traumatizing that his students refuse to show up to class. People begin to call him Freddy Krueger as the dreams are similar to what happens inA Nightmare on Elm Street. Paul's rise to stardom crumbles extremely fast as he is ostracized from society. Paul is now a villain to everyone and people try to break into his home to kill him, he is forced to quit his job, and he can’t even go into public without being harrassed. Like any influencer or celebrity he tries to make amends by posting an apology video but it is not well received as he paints himself the victim in the situation. His own family begins to turn on him and he is forced to live on his own out of the public eye. He writes his own book about the experience but he has been branded as the new Freddy Krueger. 

Kristoffer Borgli, Ari Aster
A24's Dream Scenario Special Screening / Stewart Cook/GettyImages

Dream Scenario is a twisted cautionary tale of what happens when people quickly rise to stardom and the consequences of the fall. To be an average and ordinary man in every aspect of the term, Paul can’t help but enjoy his notoriety, but fame isn’t all it's cracked up to be. Dream Scenario is not a horror movie in the traditional sense (apart from the image of Nicholas Cage killing you) instead the movie is a commentary on today’s society and the horrors of celebrity idols. 

This movie has a very unique premise and shines in its originality. There is no doubt that this is one of Nicholas Cages better roles, he nails the awkward ordinary characteristics of Paul with a weird flare. If you watch movies based on Rotten Tomatoes scores like I do, Dream Scenario is ranked at 91%. My one issue with this movie is that the third and final act falls apart a bit. The movie takes a direction towards AI and the altering of dreams, I feel like this part could have been left out and I would be completely satisfied. However, I still recommend this movie to fans of horror, sci-fi, comedy, or Nicholas Cage.

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