Dreamkatcher

 

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Trapped in a trite nightmare.

   
Dreamkatcher

  

Killer cars, evil dolls and ouija boards are among the inanimate objects that have boasted starring roles in horror films. Nearly a sub-genre all its own, a surprising number of films exist in which objects inexplicably launch a killing spree or become vessels of evil. That list includes mirrors, beds, TVs, computers, VHS tapes, video games, refrigerators, tires, condoms and a giant clothing press – to name a few. Add to that list the dreamcatcher, or ‘dreamkatcher’ rather. Apparently the ‘k’ makes them instruments of darkness. Definitions clarifying differences between the two types accompanies the film’s opening, along with an ominous postscript, that the origins of the latter are both ancient and unknown.

 

During a visit to their remote lake cottage in upstate New York, Josh (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) begins having nightmares and hearing voices. His father Luke (former E.T. child star Henry Thomas, who’s returned to the spotlight recently) and Dad’s girlfriend Gail (Radha Mitchell) try to assuage his fears. Perhaps the sudden onslaught of nightmares is linked to the death of Josh’s mother, who drowned outside in the lake. Called away on urgent song writing business, Dad rushes back to the city, leaving Gail alone with her boyfriend’s resentful son. While on a hike, Josh and Gail encounter creepy neighbor lady Ms. Ruth (resident horror matron Lin Shaye) who happens to sell spirit traps out of her isolated barn. Seeking relief from persistent night terrors, Josh sneaks away with the film’s ceremonial central object tucked into his backpack.

 

For those familiar with the 2003 Stephen King adaptation, the traditionally spelled Dreamcatcher, there’s no Morgan Freeman or telepathic aliens here. Both eye-rolling and unintentionally entertaining, Dreamkatcher has managed to integrate nearly every cliché of the genre, bringing the running time to a frightening two and a half hours. Among the worst offenders are scenes such as the dream-within-a-dream sequence, obligatory jump scares, the discovery of creepy drawings, poor mobile phone reception and CGI-enhanced spooks. There’s not much that makes sense here, including the head scratching conclusion. Dialogue is often oddly placed, including a sudden chastising of Ms. Ruth for cultural misappropriation in the crafting of her spirit traps. Genre devotees craving anything new during this cinematic dry spell may find more enjoyment here. Be sure to stick around for the mid-end credits scene setting up the unavoidable sequel. 

 

CHAD KENNERK

 

Cast: Radha Mitchell, Lin Shaye, Henry Thomas, Jules Willcox, Joseph Bishara, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong.

 

Dir Kerry Harris, Pro Kerry Harris, Annie Stewart, Christian Taylor and Orian Williams, Screenplay Dan V. Shea, Ph George Wieser, Pro Des Alexandra Kaucher, Ed Collin Kriner, Music Joseph Bishara, Costumes Alexandra Kaucher.

 

Taylor Lane Productions/Grindstone Entertainment-Lionsgate Home Entertainment

145 mins. USA. 2020. VOD Rel: 28 April 2020. Cert. R.