Movie Reviews

Every Episode Of Joko Anwar's Nightmares & Daydreams, Ranked

Summary

  • Nightmares and Daydreams is a solid Indonesian sci-fi anthology series with interconnected episodes.
  • Some episodes are better than others, with “Hypnotized” and “P.O. BOX” standing out for their twists and connections.
  • The series explores themes of passion, strange happenings, and the consequences of extreme actions.



While every episode of Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams is pretty solid, some are better than others. An Indonesian sci-fi anthology series, Nightmares and Daydreams is also one of 2024’s best horror TV shows. Across seven distinct-yet-interconnected episodes, writer-director Joko Anwar (Satan’s Slaves, Impetigore) chronicles the misadventures of a seemingly disparate ensemble of people. Some characters want nothing more than to protect their loved ones, while others go to extreme lengths for money. Whatever their drive, Anwar’s characters are passionate — and met by incredibly strange happenings that upend their realities.

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7 Encounter

Episode 4

A man floats above torch-holding people in Joko Anwar's Nightmares and Daydreams

The fourth episode of Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams isn’t so much bad as it is a bit dull and slow-moving. A fisherman struggles his entire life to save up the money he needs to locate his mother, who left him when he was just seven years old. At first, the fisherman’s wife is supportive of his drive to work and find his mother, but she becomes increasingly skeptical of the situation. One night, the fisherman ends up getting photographic evidence of an angel. While the proof makes him the talk of the village, his personal life doesn’t fare so well. Like the most depressing episodes of Black Mirror, “Encounter” just doesn’t work as well as other installments.


6 Hypnotized

Episode 6

“Hypnotized,” the sixth episode in Anwar’s anthology series, centers on a colorblind electrician, Ali, who learns how to hypnotize people. When the character uses his newfound ability to rob a woman, his life takes a turn — for the worse. Full of twists and turns, “Hypnotized” is sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Plus, it really figures in to Nightmares and Daydreams‘ final episode, hammering home the interconnected nature of Anwar’s stories. Some of the show’s most striking visuals can be found in episode 6, but “Hypnotized” doesn’t reach the same highs as other episodes.


5 The Orphan

Episode 2

Woman helping a child in Joko Anwar's Daydreams and Nightmares - episode Orphan

The titular orphan in episode 2 of Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams brings wealth to all those who adopt him. However, much like in The Ring, those involved will turn up dead just seven days later. When a grieving couple decides to adopt the orphan (and risk their lives), they scheme to avoid the looming day-seven deadline. Any time an episode involves a built-in countdown, there’s sure to be lots of tension. The questions “The Orphan” explores are incredibly intriguing too, and while there are better episodes in the anthology series, this one is pretty solid.


4 The Other Side

Episode 5

A man stands outside a movie theater in Joko Anwar's Nightmares and Daydreams - episode The Other Side

On the way home, a man gets off the bus at his old workplace: an abandoned movie theater. When he walks inside, however, the man discovers the cinema to be full of life and color. Drawn into the movie theater’s alluring energy, the man discovers that two years have passed in the outside world, leading to issues with his family. There’s no doubt that “The Other Side” is a melancholy installment in Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams, but the emotional highs and lows are definitely well worth the price of admission.

3 Old House

Episode 1


When a cab driver receives an invitation for his mother to stay at an upscale nursing home, he begrudgingly accepts. Feeling that something isn’t quite right, the unsettled taxi driver heads to the nursing home to get his mother out — only to discover that it’s a bit of a “Hotel California” situation; checking out is a near-impossible task. For the pilot episode, “Old House” does a wonderful job of setting the tone and atmosphere for the anthology series. It teases the show’s deeper lore, all while featuring an incredibly creepy cult of hooded figures and strong performances. That said, it’s a solid standalone outing that compels the viewer to click “next.”

2 P.O. BOX

Episode 7

Three characters wearing sunglasses in Joko Anwar's Nightmares and Daydreams


Written and directed by Joko Anwar, “P.O. BOX” is the seventh and final episode of Nightmares and Daydreams. Much like the first episode, there’s a lot riding on the finale. In “P.O. BOX,” a woman is dedicated to finding her missing sister, even after five years. When a clue pops up that involves a P.O. box and a mysterious job listing, she decides to investigate further. The conspiracy that she unearths is incredibly shocking — in the best way. Although all the show’s episodes tease larger connections, episode 7 links them in a rather unexpected but satisfying manner, making it a great ending for Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams season 1.

1 Poems & Pain

Episode 3

Characters stare in shock at a laptop in Joko Anwar's Nightmares and Daydreams - episode Poems and Pain


When a bestselling writer becomes down-on-her-luck after a string of bombs, she pens a sequel to her most well-loved book. The catch, however, is that it physically harms the author to write the book. Covered in bruises but flush in pages, the writer realizes that she has a rather intense connection to her protagonist too. Convinced that the character in her novel is real, the author gets involved in a compelling investigation. Essentially, “Poems & Pain” cracks the world of Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams wide open, reiterating the depth of the series’ narrative and lore. Without episode 3, the anthology’s over-arching narrative might not have the same gut-punch.

Joko Anwar's Nightmares and Daydreams (2024)

Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams (2024)

Cast
Asmara Abigail , Ario Bayu , Marissa Anita , Kiki Narendra , Niken Anjani , Faradina Mufti , Nirina Zubir , Fachry Albar

Release Date
June 14, 2024

Seasons
1

Creator(s)
Joko Anwar


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