Dream Scenario Movie Cast & Crew

Norwegian helmer Kristoffer Borgli mines his own brand of brutal, biting satire in this tale of milquetoast evolutionary biology professor Paul Matthews suddenly appearing in people’s dreams. But in the quest for topical yuks, Borgli narrows his scope and loses the movie’s edge.

Featuring Nicolas Cage at his eminently watchable best, Dream Scenario is part horror, part social critique and part comedy of manners.


Director Kristoffer Borgli (Sick of Myself) takes a page from Charlie Kaufman’s bleak, surreal human-condition comedies with Dream Scenario, which stars Nicolas Cage as Paul Matthews, a middle-aged, unmemorable evolutionary biology professor who begins appearing to perfect strangers in their dreams. It’s a fascinating premise, one that borrows from both science fiction and modern pop culture—and Cage is a natural in the role.

The movie’s first act sustains its compelling premise with a fascinating narrative rhythm, some genuinely funny jokes, and impressively atmospheric dream sequences. Borgli steers clear of the nonsense movie science that might try to explain Paul’s appearances, preferring to leave it as a kind of twisted, inexplicable pop-culture phenomenon.

As the m4ufree film continues, its footing becomes less secure. It’s a bit less of a dark, surreal cautionary tale and more of a satire of modern celebrity, with jibes at Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan aplenty. And while the film does have a strong arc, it becomes increasingly obvious that the filmmakers are using this idea as a vehicle for a few topical yuks rather than exploring its deeper meanings.

Still, it’s worth checking out for Cage’s fearless performance and the movie’s gorgeous visuals and striking production design. If only it weren’t for the dreary second and third acts that drag down what makes Dream Scenario a fascinating, enigmatic, and occasionally creepy movie.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Director Kristoffer Borgli, who previously made the 2017 comedy DRIB and 2022’s Sick of Myself, is a burgeoning talent. His work has a distinctly postmodern DNA, with elements of horror and the absurd blending into comedy. This is a boldly original movie with an interesting premise and a fearless performance from Cage. It also feels like a classic A24 concoction.

The movie’s premise centers around Paul Matthews, a nebbish evolutionary biology professor. He’s the kind of character you might not notice in real life, a balding chump who blends into his surroundings in his baggy sweater and rumpled brown leather loafers. But something weird happens when Paul starts appearing in the dreams of his students, daughters, and acquaintances. He’s not exactly co-starring in their nighttime hallucinations, more like strolling by and giving a dopey wave.

The film makes a clever choice to never fully explain why this is happening or what it means. It’s a smart move, because the movie is so much more fascinating when it’s just Paul struggling to hold on to his shred of fame and dignity as everyone else turns against him. Borgli’s script, which feels inspired by meme culture and the rush to go viral, is often hilarious in this respect, though it sours a bit as it shifts from crisp character study to target cancel culture.

Being John Malkovich

With a premise that harks back to Charlie Kaufman and Joel and Ethan Coen, Norwegian helmer Kristoffer Borgli’s Dream Scenario makes for an intriguing if occasionally frustrating entry in the neurotic comedy genre. The film stars Nicolas Cage as Paul Matthews, a tenured college professor who begins appearing in strangers’ dreams without their invitation. At first, Paul’s presence in their subconscious merely results in them walking or standing by him, but as the phenomenon grows, his benign presence soon turns into something dark and menacing.

Cage, whose career has included a fair share of duds, shines in this film. His portrayal of the perpetually befuddled professor evokes both sympathy and humor with his utterly human awkwardness and banal desperation to be liked. The movie also boasts a great supporting cast, including Saturday Night Live alum Tim Meadows as the college dean who must deal with Paul’s ominous rise to fame.

The story’s offbeat narrative and twisted sense of humor are enough to make this movie worth checking out. But it’s the chemistry between Borgli and Cage that keeps this darkly funny fantasy/horror film grounded in reality. The result is a compelling tale about the warped nature of celebrity and the corrosive effects of our TikTok-driven culture.

Waking Life

Few faces burn into the cultural zeitgeist like Nicolas Cage’s, which makes him an ideal choice to star in Norwegian director Kristoffer Borgli’s surreal and satirical movie about a nondescript Everyman who begins appearing in strangers’ dreams. Cage carries off the movie’s skewed narrative with his usual flair, as professor Paul Matthews finds himself at the center of an out-of-this-world phenomenon.

As with his brutal satire Sick of Myself, Borgli mines the dark side of fame, examining its price, its fickle nature, and its pitfalls. But the movie starts to lose its bite after Paul’s arc devolves into a blandly snarky and reductive satire of cancel culture and Tucker Carlson-type populists that feels already dated.

Nonetheless, the movie is still a fascinating exploration of dreams and movies (and the natural kinship between the two) that could have been far less entertaining without the fearless performance of its star. Borgli’s evocative staging of the dream sequences also contributes to this movie’s resonant impact.

Fans of Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich or Richard Linklater’s Waking Life will find much to savor here, as will anyone who appreciates the unique brand of bleak humor and Jungian synchronicity Borgli infuses into his narrative. A cousin to the aforementioned films as well as to Charlie Kaufman’s bleak human-condition comedies, Dream Scenario is at once strangely light-hearted and ominously serious, unnerving and oddly playful.