Neil Jordan is also a frequent dabbler in genre material (see below for a full list of Jordans genre films). His first film, The Company of Wolves (1984), co-written with fantasy writer Angela Carter, was a remarkable deconstruction of Little Red Riding Hood where the fairy-tale swam between a heady mix of dream, horror film imagery and Freudian symbolism wherein the wolf became a werewolf that stood in for the fear of male sexuality by the nascently pubescent Little Red Riding Hood. High Spirits was Neil Jordans attempt to mount a screwball haunted house comedy, which ended in much noise and chaos but little affect. Jordans Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles proved to be, when all the pre-publicity ballyhoo had died down, an adaptation that was remarkably faithful to the original text and an underrated film of lush, elegant power. Jordans The Butcher Boy was an outrageous horror show that swept through murder, madness and child abuse with remarkably good cheer there are few other filmmakers who could mount a film that asks one to celebrate a murderous childs acts as triumphal and get away with it.
In Dreams is clearly one of Neil Jordans more commercially tailored films. Here Jordan is working under the aegis of DreamWorks. Disappointingly, In Dreams is also one of Neil Jordans least interesting films. Jordan has settled on a plot the clairvoyant who gains a telepathic link to the mind of a killer or visions of the murders that has been used too many times before with the likes of the tv movies The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972), Visions (1972) and Baffled (1973) and films such as Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Double Exposure (1981), Cassandra (1987), Fear (1990), Dead On Sight (1994), Sensation (1994), Hideaway (1995), Murder Scene (2000), Troubled Waters (2006), Empathy (2007), The Cell 2 (2009), Let Me Die Quietly (2009) and In/Sight (2011). It is a theme that has invariably suffered from routine handling, with the only of the abovementioned films that conducted it with the slightest degree of interest being Rockne S. OBannons Fear, which stretched the game between the killer and psychic out with tautly constructed suspense. Here Jordan is saddled with a plot that is just too familiar and ultimately a script that fails to throw any novel twists on the theme.
On the plus side, the tired plot at least has Neil Jordan going for it. Jordans juxtapositions of imagery are undeniably striking like the clever synchronous intercutting of Annette Benings crashing the car off a bridge with the daughter drowning; or a scene where Bening escapes from hospital that intercuts with and blurs into the young killers cross-dressing seduction and murder of a man. Some of the precognitive images are often eerily conducted like the scene where Annette Bening presages Aidan Quinns murder with one of her dreams; the image of the dying daughter telling Bening You dont have anything to worry about anymore. Neil Jordans command and elegance as a director rides supreme over the film all that is needed to suggest that Aidan Quinn is having an affair is an envelope inadvertently dropped out of his suit coat pocket. Jordan is also helped immensely by a good score and beautifully sparse photography from Darius Khondji that seems to drain the colour out of autumnal New Hampshire landscapes.
Despite In Dreams being a commercial film, Jordan has still placed his idiosyncratic touch on it and many familiar Jordan themes run through the film. One of the most recurrent themes in Neil Jordans films is of relationships that blur traditional gender expectations the transsexual love affair from The Crying Game (1992); Mona Lisa (1986), which climactically hinged on Bob Hoskins tragic failing in understanding the sexual preference of the woman he desires; Interview with the Vampire with its contrary image of a family that consists of two male lovers and a daughter who is an immortal woman trapped in a childs body; Breakfast on Pluto (2005) about the life of drag performer; while, in an almost routine emergence of the themes, Robert Downey Jrs killer here is given to cross-dressing. Another recurrent Jordan image is that of the individual alienated from society such as Brad Pitts Louis who is neither accepted by vampires nor human society in Interview with the Vampire; Stephen Reas IRA hitman hiding from his past in The Crying Game; and the title character of The Butcher Boy, a film that is one single howl of disturbed, alienated youth. Indeed, the character of Vivian in In Dreams could almost be The Butcher Boys Francie Brady grown up.
Neil Jordans other genre films are:- The Company of Wolves (1984), an adaptation of one of Angela Carterís stories that deconstructs Little Red Riding Hood with werewolves; the haunted castle comedy High Spirits (1998); the Anne Rice adaptation Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994); The Butcher Boy (1997), a surreal horror film about a disturbed Irish childhood; the female vigilante film The Brave One (2007); Ondine (2009) about a possible sea nymph; and the vampire film Byzantium (2012).