6 out of 10
Mr Hanky Turns Psycho
With "Dreamweaver" on your internet site, "Dreamworks" churning out flicks and now "Dreamcatcher" on the big screen, the word, "Dream" has certainly entered a new renaissance, maybe because instead of real opportunities for Joe Blow to "get ahead" through hard work, he only has lottery tickets, wishful thinking and the rags with predictions about aliens left in place of a future..
With 8 out of 10 of the top grossing movies of all time featuring aliens it's not just our world but our entire culture they've invaded. It was only a matter of time before writers had them coming out of our asses and that's appropriate as most of dreamcatcher is pretty sick shit. After eating some highly potent red slimy stuff with all the consistency of my girlfriend's curry...hey, wait a minute, maybe it was my girlfriend's curry - the victims develop chronic wind and then pass (terminally) a gross-out monster that has a mouth like a hairbrush fillied with darning needles. In looks and birth it embarrassingly closely ressembles the infamous "Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo" from South Park.
As in all of Stephen King's writing, even a threat to mankind survival is little more than a backdrop of this story centred on ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Four friends - psychiatrist Henry (Thomas Jane), Jonsey (Damian Lewis), Beaver (Jason Lee) and the sex-craved Pete (Timothy Olyphant) - gather for a wintery weekend away at "Hole In The Wall", a cabin in the wilds of the forest, miles from civilization to escape from each of their personal midlife crises. One is suicidal, one is obsessed with getting laid and so on, but they all have one thing in common - "Duddites" - a retarded child they saved from bullies when they were young, and the four have remained close ever since. In recognition for their kindness, Duddites has embued them each with their own special power, eg telekinesis, the ability to read minds and so on. When all the wildlife in the woods, rabbits, deer, birds and even bears, risen from their hiberation in mid-Winter, start migrating in herds past their window, they begin to sense that something serious has happened locally. It'll be an adventure that will encompass a ruthless American Colonel, who wants to kill every living thing, a spectacular arial assault on a hillside and a man who talks into loaded revolvers as if it were a telephone.
Dreamcatcher has some truly bizarre and original ideas in storytelling and not just through having flashbacks interspaced thoughout its length.. For instance, Jonesy becomes trapped in his own body when it becomes possessed by an alien which is visualised as him being in a locked room inside a vast and dusty building where old files are stored, and yet can see the events outside through the window. Sadly, though, there are irrationalities within it.. It slips.quickly back into Hollywood's modern day bigotry with the evil alien personna recognizable through his "English accent." Similarly, in truth, some of their special powers also actually unwittingly assist the aliens.
In a curious twist, "Dreamcatcher" has the avuncular Morgan Freeman as the bad guy and Tom Sizemore, an eternal mainstay of many a great mafia movie, as Boss Pintera in "Enemy of the State" for instance, as the reluctant hero, possibly as director Lawrence Kasdan had worked with Sizemore before on "Wyatt Earp." Likewise, North London lad, Damian Lewis has to play both antagonist and protagonist, a dual-role he achieves with sparkle - one moment he's the boy next door and the next, the very epitamy of evil. Of greatest note, however is Donnie Wahlberg, who was such a great character actor as Duddites, it led to a storm of people who believed the studio really had hired a retarded man.
Despite all this and having`a record of directing a list of lead-lined clunkers, such as "Wyatt Earp", Lawrence Kasban did not deserve to see "Dreamcatcher" sink like a stone, raking in almost exactly to the penny, half the $68million it cost to make. It has an originality in its production and is a genuinely creepy flick. Maybe it is the fact that the gross-out factor worked so well that actually kept people away. After seeing it, you can't but help peeping under the bed and I swear you'll never eat another curry again.
Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett