Written while King was recovering from his tragic accident in which he was hit by a car, “Dreamcatcher” follows many of the themes of his traumatic event, even featuring a main character being violently hit by a car in the middle of the road. It’s unfortunate for King, that “Dreamcatcher” is one of his many onscreen misses. “Dreamcatcher” is a formula gone horribly wrong with plot elements and a story so contrived that it’s hard to watch this while not thinking about other stuff this borrows from. Borrowing from John Carpenter’s variation of “The Thing”, four men go up to a cabin in the woods to meet after years of separation and must take on an alien entity that can possess bodies; and borrowing from “Invasion of the body snatchers”, many people are getting overtaken by an alien that uses spores to enter one’s body and take over them.
I just couldn’t hate this film simply because of the people behind it. Director Lawrence Kasdan beautifully directs this film with cinematographer John Seale who are able to capture both the beauty and tranquility of the forest, and the horror of certain scenes to a sheer precision. Certain sequences capturing the forest are very beautiful and the scene transitions are sometimes very visual, but the true aspect of the film that kept me from shying away halfway through were the cast and the performances. I’m a huge fan of many of the cast in this film and they supply some truly great performances. Right off, there’s Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, and Timothy Olyphant respectively. I’d never seen much from Damian Lewis, but he also manages to give a great performance as duel characters; one being Jonesy, and the other being the English accented alien who intends on capturing his friends and possessing them.
With all these great performances and chemistry they’re paired with Freeman and Sizemore who attempt to make due with the material their given. Sizemore does the best he can with his character who helps in the takedown of the alien invasion. Now, where could a movie go wrong when it stars three of the most bad-ass actors in film, and a legendary actor? It’s clearly obvious halfway through. King’s stories have many themes to them, a group of friends, some bonded at childhood, gather once more and must bond together to take on a force, sometimes demonic, and sometimes just life within itself. “Stand by Me”, “Hearts of Atlantis”, “It”, “Silver Bullet” all have relatively the same themes, but this film seems as if King has reached the bottom of the barrel because what starts off as a good film ends in simple absurdity and sheer nonsense.
I entered into this relatively involved as we’re introduced to four interesting and intriguing characters, they gather in a cabin and begin talking and joking and remembering their friend Duddits, a mentally disabled boy who changed their lives after they saved him from being beaten to death and they’re drawn to one another, then the story takes a gradual turn into horror movie territory as we watch the four men split into two and are forced to fight their own battles with the alien entity. Jonesy and Beaver encounter the old man on the toilet and discover the turd-like creature in the toilet. Beaver then sits on the toilet trapping it, but when he attempts to reach for a toothpick, the creature is set free.
Absurdity and nonsense continue to enter the story as we’re introduced to two more characters, Col. Curtis, an eccentric and violent colonel who looks like a clone of R. Lee Ermy, and his sidekick Lt. Owen played by Tom Sizemore. What’s sad is these two fine actors are put to so much waste, it’s criminal. Freeman is reduced to a caricature of an army colonel as he screams at every person and spouts cheesy and often annoying one liners, while Sizemore gives a restrained and mellow performance as his apprentice. The chemistry between the two is generic while the one-liners fly. The two look bored in this role and we’re forced to watch their vague character development while sitting through terrible dialogue. There’s a great cast, and a great director, but ultimately the finishing product fails to live up to any potential. Besides, what can you expect from a film in which aliens are born from the butt?