'Dreamkatcher' Review: Radha Mitchell's horror thriller is an intriguing science vs paranormal tussle
On its part, 'Dreamkatcher' sticks to a rather original plotline where the affair is more of a tussle between the science and the paranormal
'Dreamkatcher' isn't a typical slasher film. Neither is it a blood-curdling, grotesque screecher. What it is, is a combination of horror elements spliced with a slick thriller storyline, and is coupled with an impressive cast performance. Kerry Harris' debut project is not to be confused with Lawrence Kasdan's 'Dreamcatcher', another 2003 horror flick— a stunningly, terribly messed up adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name.
On its part, 'Dreamkatcher' sticks to a rather original plotline where the affair is more of a tussle between the science and the paranormal.
The movie starts off with dictionary-style definitions of Dreamcatcher vs Dreamkatcher setting the tone for what can rightly be termed as a suspense-filled flick. Soon after, a woman (Jules Willcox) is shown to be axed to death by a mysterious child in a quaint home at a picturesque location, preferably upstate. Except, this serenity and the peace is actually a shroud for something purely sinister and evil.
Luke (Henry Thomas), his girlfriend, Gail (Radha Mitchell) and his eight-year-old son, Josh (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) arrive at the remote holiday home to catch a break from the bustling city life. Less than a day of staying there, Luke gets a call to head back to the city leaving Gail and Josh, who's relationship is pretty rocky as the latter is yet to come to terms with the death of his mother. The horror elements exist in almost every frame, including Josh's introduction where he hears his name being whispered by an unknown entity.
Harris ensures there's not much time wasted as 'Dreamkatcher' breezes past each act. The supporting cast in the form of Lin Shaye as Ruth, a rather creepy and dark woman who reeks of secrets gets a quick introduction. She owns an artifact shop nearby filled with trinkets that come across as unique and dark at the same time. There are spirit traps, some voodoo material, almost black and white lighting, all of which serve as an authentic Mise-en-scène.
Josh starts seeing grim and horrific apparitions of his mother, Becky (Willcox) in the dream and Gail, revealed to be a child psychotherapist, looks at it as dreams that he can actually be in control of. Paranormal events occur when Josh sneaks into the shop's barn and unearths a dark dreamkatcher and takes it home so as to rid himself of the dreams, instead, it just heightens the horror in the house where a possessed Josh attempts to kill Gail on Becky's instructions.
Science comes in when Gail attempts to decode Josh's mannerisms. On the outside, this was a child who has a tough time dealing with his emotions, deep within, he's controlled by a ghost that looks to take every opportune moment to kill Gail. The murder attempts at first look like they can't actually kill, but gets more ominous over the course of the film.
'Dreamkatcher' may have a predictable plot, but it makes up for it by introducing the science vs supernatural dilemma. Gail's theory of Josh being a disturbed kid comes across as something believable considering the complexity and the ability of the human mind. While with enough theories across the world supporting the existence of the paranormal gives the audience a chance to look at the horror element as a possibility.
Casting works in Harris' favor with Mitchell ('Silent' movie series), Shaye ('Insidious') and Thomas ('Haunting of Hill House') brings in the experience of working in the horror genre. The plot comes as a refresher and almost every character, except Gail, comes with secrets and that thrusts her into an ominous situation. The tone borders between dark and intensely dark giving the impression that dangers lurk at almost every corner of the house.
VoD film releases have seen a rise since the outbreak of the pandemic and this breezy flick is worth the time spent. It might not leave you with nightmares, but it does have its moments of spook.
'Dreamkatcher' is available on VoD.