Dreamcatcher (2003) / Horror-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore and language
Running Time: 134 min.
Cast: Damian Lewis, Thomas Jane, Morgan Freeman, Jason Lee, Tom Sizemore, Timothy Olyphant
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Screenplay: William Goldman, Lawrence Kasdan
Review published March 19, 2003
Dreamcatcher is one long, glorious turd of a movie that will possibly go down as a fave cult film for some, while completely bewildering the rest of the audiences out there. From initial appearances feels like a decent flick, with some interesting writing, good characterizations, and a lot of imagination, but somewhere it just gets too bizarre for its own good. Riding this magic carpet ride requires extreme diligence, because it tries to shake you this way and that, and about a half hour to the ending, I fell off too. If not for the quality actors, a good director in Kasdan (Silverado, Body Heat), and the fact that it's adapted from a Stephen King book, I would have sworn this could only come from the crazy, b-movie mind of John Carpenter, as this is a film that seems right up his alley.
Dreamcatcher follows four lifelong friends who take a hunting trip in Maine, only to get holed in due to a severe snowstorm. That's just the beginning of a series of strange events, which not only tests their friendship, but also their lives and possible the fate of all humanity! Things take a downturn when they let a stranger into their cabin who turns out to have severe flatulence. It's not just what he ate, but what's growing inside him as a result. Soon the quartet find themselves in the middle of a battle between alien creatures, a gung-ho army colonel who is willing to kill everyone in the area to make sure the aliens don't win.
Dreamcatcher is quite bizarre for a major motion picture release, especially one that attracted quite a bit of mainstream talent to it. This marks the third time William Goldman (Misery, Hearts in Altantis) has adapted a screenplay based on a work by Stephen King, and the result is definitely more miss than hit this time around. It may not necessarily be his fault, as King's book was rather long and heavy on character development (so I've heard), not easily to squeezed into a two hour flick. I would also surmise from the nonsense near the end of the film that there is quite a bit of material which was excised for purposes of time, and the intended finished product probably was meant to make more sense. I could give them the benefit of the doubt, but I can only review the film that was turned in, and that film is an unqualified mess, sad to say.
I enjoy strange films as much as the next guy, and although Dreamcatcher starts off in fine fashion, it gets more surreal as the film nears the halfway point, until it finally goes off of the deep end during what is supposed to be an exciting climax. By that time, I could care less who wins or loses, and even didn't care if it ended up that all life on earth had ceased as we know it, just as long as the film wrapped up so I could do other things. As bad as the film is, I must admit, it is almost a bit of a guilty pleasure because it is SO bad, that quite frankly, I was expecting to be thrown for a loop with a surprise ending. That ending never came, and in fact, the ending is so abrupt, I wonder if that wasn't chopped out too.
Dreamcatcher is a film so strange, I almost would recommend it for the crowd who likes David Lynch or the aforementioned John Carpenter, who did a very similar vehicle with The Thing, but I feel it falls short of any such recommendations due to a miserable final half hour. Fans of the book will probably be even more disturbed at how one of their favorite stories would end up dissected into a protracted action vehicle, with skimpy character development and nonsensical plotting. This is a film only for those who enjoy the most ridiculously offbeat of bad films, the kind that can only be enjoyed for how over-the-top the level of weirdness will go. In a low-budget, indie sci-fi flick that's fine, but in a film as commercial as this, the result is disastrous. It's an acid-trip -- just a bad one.
©2003 Vince Leo