Dale Hunter (Michael Muhney) lives in the perfect world of 50s cars and fashion mixed with stunning office blocks and modern technology. And it is in one of those office blocks where he works in the advertising department for Arora. But ever since Dale had an accident he has not only had strange dreams but is seeing strange things where the people in front of him become pixelated and items such as watches have ID codes. Trying to make sense of what is happening leads him to an old fashioned library and Wendy (Tasma Walton) who together try and solve what is going on as whilst everyone thinks Kurt Cobain has just released an album of children's songs and Marilyn Monroe is starring in a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio she has read about their deaths in the books she looks after.
It would be easy to say that "Virtual Nightmare" is a low budget movie which uses an idea from "The Matrix" as we watch Dale see the world around him pixelate and become full of code tags. But "Virtual Nightmare" has a lot more going on than that and in fact partly works on this world which is presented to us. On one hand it feels like we are in 50s America with diners, juke boxes, old fashioned clothes and sweet older cars. But then it throws in the contemporary anomalies from modern TVs to adverts announcing Kurt Cobain's new album of Children songs as well as an advert on a shop window for a CD Rom Blowout Sale. This mixed up 50s modern world is amusing and it makes you smile when Dale's parents talk to him in catchphrases.
But beyond the entertainment of this amusing world we have that aspect of what is really going on. We have a touch of "The Matrix" with Dale seeing codes but we also have a touch of "Westworld" in there as Dale witnesses men in a modern white van and protection suits pick up people in blue body bags. It does a good job of making you wonder what is going on behind the scenes whilst also wondering what Arora is. Whilst "Virtual Nightmare" might lack well known faces and big budget effects as well as occasionally feeling too copycat it does do a great job of keeping you intrigued as to what is really going on.
Now I said there are no big name stars but that doesn't matter as "Virtual Nightmare" is surprisingly well acted with Michael Muhney creating an effective character who is struggling to deal with what is going on but also fits into the curiously perfect 50s world.
What this all boils down to is that "Virtual Nightmare" is a little gem of a movie with some good ideas, above average performances and a creativity about it which not only keeps you involved but also amused. In fact whilst "Virtual Nightmare" is an above average TV movie it could have worked as a big screen movie with a bit more money spent on it.