In Dragonfly, Tom Shadyac stays in the medical milieu he first visited in Patch Adams, but instead of syrupy comedy, this time he's dosing out Sixth Sense-style chills. The director's genre shift from broad comedy to horror lite is comfortable enough, but don't expect to see this one ringing up the cash registers like his previous efforts. Despite a fine performance by Kevin Costner as the unraveling widower and a number of effective startle scares, Dragonfly must be seen as a very minor work, lacking in specific urgency. It is nice, though, to see Costner playing within himself, ditching the botched accents and period garb and being willing to go grumpy and temperamental. While Dragonfly has a reasonably unpredictable and fulfilling payoff, it takes a lot of interchangeable scenes of cancerous children acting as spooky mediums to get there. And, let's be honest, some of the startle scares are obvious retreads, like the lifeless hand springing awake to clutch the nearest arm. Shadyac may have closely followed M. Night Shyamalan's blueprint for postmodern spiritual horror, right down to having veteran cameraman Dean Semler emulate those bluish hues from The Sixth Sense. But the story of Joe and Emily Darrow is not quite involving enough, despite all those effortful scenes of supernatural symbolism. For the more sentimental viewers, the end will probably justify the means, but others may feel trifled with.
by Derek Armstrong review