In the sci-fi thriller God of Dreams, filmmaker Jurian Isabelle transports audiences to a dystopian future, where the government has outlawed dreaming as a way to control its citizens. The government claims that the act of dreaming has been linked to social division, terrorism, and disruption of the country’s economy. As a result, citizens are forced to take dream-suppressing drugs throughout the day or face stiff consequences. These consequences started as losing one’s freedoms and livelihoods, and now by an act of Congress, law enforcement (known as Justice Patrols) is free to execute those who refuse to take the drug on the spot.
But in this metaphor for the crazy road that the real world is walking down today, there is a growing underground movement of citizens who refuse to take the drug. They are called “Runners” because they are perpetually trying to stay ahead of the Justice Patrols. To fuel the movement, Runners supply members with fake pills (placebos) for show and eat only natural food because the government has laced processed foods with the drug as well.
The players in God of Dreams are Ket (Julia Reilly), a teen troubled by the effects of the drugs who begins illegally searching for Dreamers on the internet; her parents, who are concerned she’ll become a Runner; and dream-suppressing specialist Dr. Bonnie Roberts (Kathy Shea).
Prophet Major (Keshawn Pettigrew) and Amani (Jessie Reader) lead the Runner movement. After the death of their friends at the hands of the Justice Patrol, they created a website, The Strong Tower, to recruit anyone who wants to dream again. However, as the drugs start to wear off, Prophet Major and Amani experience prophetic visions in their dreams… which may lead them to a final showdown.
“…citizens are forced to take dream-suppressing drugs…”
As all good science-fiction does, God of Dreams presents a world where insight into humanity and thought-provoking ideas are taken to logical extremes. For example, it considers what might happen if the government one day decided that its people had to take a drug to be upstanding citizens for “the good of the nation.” Writer-director Isabelle also plays around with the idea of the importance of dreaming, both literally and figuratively. When we sleep, dreaming keeps us in touch with our emotions and the ability to feel empathy. In addition, they tap into our self-consciousness, which allows us to break out of the group thinking and asking questions.
God of Dreams is a low-budget science-fiction indie film worthy of our support as an alternative to the big studio schlock. So how do you fix the cheap visual effects, framerate, and camera definition issues? Do what the big studios would do and through millions of dollars at the problem? You should be so lucky.
Isabelle managed to build a world worthy of the genre with basically no money. He produces some pretty dark and stark images in the end. His messaging is also on point. As an emerging Black filmmaker, he hits on topics of race without ever having to bring it up directly.
Low-budget sci-fi is one of the most challenging genres to pull off. I appreciate God of Dreams because it presents a morality tale like Star Trek and The Twilight Zone. The story and ingenuity of Isabelle more than makeup for the lack of big Hollywood money. Telling you about films like this is why Film Threat exists.
"…worthy of our support as an alternative to the big studio schlock."