Adam Morse’s debut film, Lucid poses many interesting questions surrounding one’s control of their life and that of their dreams. The film is beautifully shot, with cinematographer Michel Dierickx transporting the audience into the ambiguous space between dream and reality. However, as the narrative begins to develop, the atmosphere of the film fades to the point of non-existence – and the main plot of the film chokes the eerie tone of the film.
The film follows Zel (Laurie Calvert), a lonely, isolated teenager with a crush on a girl who lives in his apartment complex. When Zel begins to follow advice from his eccentric neighbor (Billy Zane), he soon realizes that all of his desires can come true through the act of lucid dreaming. It’s an odd directorial choice to use lucid dreaming as a means of fulfilling the sexual desires of a lonely boy, and this aspect restricts the other, stronger aspects of the film. Throughout Lucid, women are treated as objects that Zel wants to attain; his ‘goal’, however – to seek the acceptance of the women he desires – can only be achieved if he resolves his social anxiety. This sexual fantasy is the catalyst for the film’s events and, while the parts of the film deviate from this original desire, one can not help but find Zel’s objectification of the women in his life particularly troubling.
However, while Zel’s main goal of utilizing his new gift to fulfill his sexual desires certainly does restrict the tone of the film, Morse does find success in Zel’s blurring of reality and fantasy. At its best, the film is a poignant character study of the male fantasy – facilitated by Morse’s use of lucid dreaming. As Zel begins to lose touch with reality, his interactions with others becomes uncomfortable. Realizing that he’s not as in control as he thinks he is – losing the ability to determine his fantasy and reality – Morse begins to hide the truth from the audience as well. Characters and scenes begin to blur together, which creates a striking, cerebral aspect to the film – though it’s frustrating that the rest of the film struggles to match this pitch-perfect tone.
By far the stand-out aspect of Lucid is Billy Zane’s performance as Zel’s mentor, Eliot. Cast perfectly, Zane’s scenes elevate the film to much higher standards – providing the intellectual grounding for both Zel and the narrative to flourish, while Eliot himself serves as the catalyst to help Zel overcome his social anxiety. Although Zel grossly misuses his information to the point where the line between infatuation and obsession becomes blurred, Eliot’s assistance to Zel is admirable nevertheless. Unfortunately, Zane is clearly underused, despite his gargantuan efforts to leave a positive effect on each scene he was in.
Although Morse was close to creating an engaging film centered around an interesting concept, a few poor narrative choices ultimately restrict Lucid from ever fully blossoming into this grandiose concept.