Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Every time I review one of the Eight Films to Die For/AfterDark HorrorFest films, I mention how they are uneven in quality, which is true. Today’s movie is Dread, which has a better pedigree than most, being adapted from a short story by horror master Clive Barker.

Stephen (Jackson Rathbone) is a film student at an unnamed university. He seems to float aimlessly through life, modeling his personal style on Robert Smith of the Cure. He laments about his inability to get laid, although if you re-read the preceding sentence, you might uncover the secret. He has a chance meeting with Quaid (Shaun Evans) who is obviously a psychopath. Quaid shares his childhood trauma with Stephen, namely that an axe-wielding madman slaughtered his family while he watched, and suggests they collaborate on a student film that will explore what people dread. Stephen, who seems to be a little thick, agrees.

The film project consists of getting student volunteers to sit in front of the camera and talk about what their fears, making it just like every other student film ever produced. No faculty member seems involved in this in any way. Stephen gets his friend Cheryl (Hanne Steen) involved to edit the film, although editing should be easy, and his other friend Abby (Laura Donnelly) also gets caught up in the project. Abby has a birthmark which covers most of the right side of her body, which makes her especially vulnerable. Both girls seem attracted to Stephen for no discernable reason.

The project goes well enough, but there is a hitch. What could it be? Oh, yeah, Quaid is a psychopath. Predictably, he begins to use the subjects’ fears against them.

Judging by its rating on, this is one of the more popular films in the series, and judging by the comments, there are a lot of people who really love it. As usual, I am a contrarian. I found it hard to believe the gang would lack the awareness to realize they were spending time in a secluded house in the woods with a sociopath, and that would not end well. The Stephen character is entirely too passive, and he’s one of those who gets a chance to stop the madman, and just can’t bring himself to do anything.

A lot of those who liked the film mentioned they liked how disturbing it is, and, with a nihilistic ending, it certainly is. So, however, is a video of a slaughterhouse, and I wouldn’t enjoy that either. I’m afraid this is thumbs down for me, although I should point out most disagree with me. It might also be enjoyed if you are a fan of The Cure.

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

Anymore I just tell people that the time they spend watching these so-so Barker film adaptations is better spent actually reading his original stories.