Dreamcatcher (2003)

Genres - Horror, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Alien Film, Sci-Fi Horror  |   Release Date - Mar 21, 2003 (USA)  |   Run Time - 134 min.  |   Countries - Australia, Canada, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

It's no wonder that one of Stephen King's most scattered novels would translate into one of his most convoluted films. The high production values may link Dreamcatcher to King's new breed of prestigious films, but its kitchen-sink plot and haphazard execution make it more at home with the author's larger quantity of misfires. This, however, is not just one misfire -- it's three or four crammed into one confused and laughable orgy. Acclaimed storytellers Lawrence Kasdan and William Goldman were surely drawn to the challenge of spinning linear logic from King's splatter of familiar concerns -- childhood trauma/nostalgia, supernatural simpletons, disease outbreak, and the occasional body-snatching alien thrown in for good measure. Not surprisingly, they failed, but what's interesting is the depth and utter blindness of their failure. There's little onscreen that skims the surface of unsettling -- but plenty in the unintentional humor category. (In the most baffling example of this, when the alien possesses the character played by Damian Lewis, he speaks and acts like a British piano teacher throwing a hissy fit.) The film's trailer generated chills and anticipation with the less-is-more approach, and the first half-hour effectively lays the groundwork for that promise. But once the CGI aliens are granted an abrupt physical reality, Dreamcatcher devolves into pure hokum, leaving nothing for the imagination and even less that's genuinely disturbing. What may be most surprising of all is that Dreamcatcher makes Morgan Freeman look like a bad actor. To those who remember how naturally he partnered with King in The Shawshank Redemption, this whole viewing experience will seem quite alien indeed.