It was her dark illustration of childhood fables that lured him. It was her dreams of deadly premonitions he would come to own. As Claire Cooper (Annette Bening) frantically tries to convince a cynical world of her mind link with a madman – bent on avenging his childhood lost – she realizes she has but one choice. To stop the killer (Robert Downey Jr.), she must become him… once and for all. Her seeming descent into madness proves the only sane solution. Fretful dreams and waking visions of a missing girl, an apple orchard and a town drowned long ago were the first to tear at Claire’s idyllic New England life with her husband Paul (Aidan Quinn). As the visions increased, so did the distance between them, compounding her urgency for police to heed her warnings of impending tragedy. The police, Paul and even her psychiatrist Dr. Silverman (Stephen Rea) remain deaf of the silent screams of future victims haunting Claire’s dreams.
From conception to conclusion, paranormal parallels run deep in In Dreams. Initially, the story sprang from an idea surrounding reports of police departments hiring psychics to track down murderers. Screenwriter Bruce Robinson was then commissioned to flesh out the plot. Later, Neil Jordan came aboard, drawn to the alluring yet murky aspect of the metaphysical world floated in a horror tale. It was what Jordan calls the “startling image” of the story’s opening that immediately grabbed him: divers probing the remains of a drowned town for the victims of a serial killer, while on the surface a tortured Claire Cooper, drowning in her relentless premonitions, probes the dephts of her dreams for clues to the killer’s next move.