The F*ckin Black Sheep: Dreamcatcher (2003)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Dreamcatcher (2003)
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

“Flawed? Yes. Perfect? No. Better than the reviews say? Yes.”

With STAR WARS back and being the shit and all, one of the credited heroes for the franchise’s revival is Lawrence Kasdan, the man who co-wrote EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, REVENGE OF THE JEDI, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and…THE BODYGUARD. That’s a pretty good run. His career as a writer/director, however, hasn’t been as strong with BODY HEAT and THE BIG CHILL being the standouts.

In 2003, when Kasdan paired with screenwriting legend William Goldman to adapt Stephen King with DREAMCATCHER, it sounded like it might fall into the “good” King adaptations like Goldman’s on MISERY and avoid the long list of lackluster movies. Ok, so DREAMCATCHER bombed at the box office and was universally panned. Hell, even Kasdan admitted that it hurt his career. With all that said, DREAMCATCHER isn’t the shit show that it’s been made out to be. Flawed? Yes. Perfect? No. Better than the reviews say? Definitely!

In case you missed this one, it involves four lifelong friends (Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Timothy Olyphant, Damian Lewis) who take an annual vacation to the woods. As it happens, Lee and Lewis encounter a very cold, very gassy dude in the woods while Jane and Olyphant nearly run over an equally gassy woman on the road. It turns out that these folks have a bad, bad case of ring worm and birth out a few ready-to-kill giant alien worms. At the same time, stereotypical evil military man Morgan Freeman and kind of pointless military man Tom Sizemore hunt the worm alien things.

One of the more interesting King films, DREAMCATCHER plays like two different movies. Part one comes from King’s intimate character based story with those lifelong friends. That’s the heart, the soul of the movie and the scenes we do get with them seem authentic (even if the dialogue isn’t the best). Once Damian Lewis gets possessed (sounding like Malcolm McDowell as he battles the alien from within his brain), his friends know it’s no longer him on site. Kasdan should have extended our time with them. Part two plays like a big budget alien/contagion flick. And it’s the part that should have been cut all together. It’s hard to do both and not have things feel a bit overstuffed. It still works and it still ends up being entertaining, but it’s difficult not to point out the potential if the story had been trimmed down.

Kasdan makes two major mistakes with DREAMCATCHER: 1) Morgan Freeman’s eyebrows. I mean…wtf. They are massive and look insane, like some sort of cartoon character come to life. Maybe it was a way that Freeman got into character or he thought it added to it. 2) Kasdan shows the monster way too quickly. I remember seeing this in theaters in 2003 and that was my main complaint then and my main complaint now. It’s also CGI done completely wrong, showing the audience things just because budget allowed it to. And let’s face it: No horror movie should have a $68 million budget. Like, ever. If Kasdan and company had been forced to improvise and shoot around showing the monster, this could have ended up a far more superior flick. Think THE THING. Think ALIEN. Hell, think PREDATOR. Even though I still enjoy the movie, it still annoys the hell out of me that so much suspense was eliminated.

DREAMCATCHER is an interesting flick to revisit because it has so many great participants. It has Kasdan and Goldman, Morgan Freeman, Stephen King. Legends. Then there’s Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Donnie Wahlberg. Solid careers, but each seemed to have had a chance to make it even bigger. (Oh and Timothy Olyphant the year before he became a cowboy in DEADWOOD). And that kinda summarizes the movie, really. It could have been one of the great King movies. It has great moments, some damn scary ones, too. But like a lot of the cast, it just missed the mark. Nothing to be embarrassed by, and the reviews were far too harsh, but it falls quite short of being legendary.



Extra Tidbit: What do you think of DREAMCATCHER?



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