The UnPopular Opinion: Dreamcatcher

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION 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 LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!


Stephen King has been a name synonymous with horror on the big screen almost as long as he has on the written page. His sprawling works like IT and THE STAND have been translated into small screen mini-series while his big screen output like THE MIST, THE SHINING and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION have garnered critical acclaim. But, for every great Stephen King movie, there are clunkers like THE LAWNMOWER MAN or SLEEPWALKERS. Sometimes, there are Stephen King adaptations that seem to fail both critically and commercially and yet are still pretty good movies in their own right. DREAMCATCHER falls squarely in that category.

Stephen King himself has said he didn't like DREAMCATCHER very much, having penned it by hand while under the influence of Oxycontin after suffering his brutal car accident in 1999. The novel is a blend of science fiction and horror that combines elements from previous King works while also managing to give us something wholly unique and terrifying. Plus, this is a film scripted and directed by one of the highest caliber teams in Hollywood. Combine that with an all-star cast and you have a film that many look at as a high profile failure along the lines of DEATH TO SMOOCHY. Those of you who know my take on that film should anticipate where I am going here.

With this much flannel there has to be some Pearl Jam on the soundtrack.

DREAMCATCHER is an amalgam of several films and novels: part STAND BY ME, part ALIEN, and part APOCALYPSE NOW, the film was written by THE PRINCESS BRIDE's William Goldman and directed by THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK's Lawrence Kasdan.  These two gentlemen definitely play to the heart of the film which is the bond between the cast as young boys and adults.  While the kids seem to take a back seat in this tale, their adult counterparts, played by Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Donnie Wahlberg, and Thomas Jane knock it out of the park.  The material itself begs for suspension of disbelief and feels like the nightmare of a teenager rather than the work of a master of horror.  But, that doesn't mean it isn't batshit crazy entertainment.

The aliens, called Ripleys in a nod to the Sigourney Weaver character, make their debut in one of the most grotesque toilet scenes you could possibly imagine.  This leads to all sorts of toilet humor and body horror that take the tone of what started as a STAND BY ME style film and make it the ultimate scifi nightmare.  Throw in the military embodied by Morgan Freeman and Tom Sizemore and you have a movie that pulls almost every single genre in the pot and produces a movie that is all over the place.  But, where many may feel the disparate tone and genre stylings don't work, it ends up feeling like a crazy rollercoaster, just like the best Stephen King novels.

Scariest vagina ever.

DREAMCATCHER seems to work better for those who read the novel, especially when it requires you to get inside the mind of characters utilizing the mind control plot device in the film.  Still, Lawrence Kasdan manages to give us a glimpse inside of these characters minds, especially the mentally challenged Duddits (Wahlberg) to give us a powerful tale of friendship wrapped within a movie that celebrates horror/scifi cliches while also turning them on their head.

This is not a movie for the faint of heart as the alien "shit weasels" are abominations that would haunt viewers and keep them away from bathrooms long after the end of the film.  Even Morgan Freeman's Colonel Curtis has some of the craziest moments in the movie, and I am not even referring to his eyebrows.  From a filmmaking standpoint, there are definite holes in the way the film is assembled.  The editing could have been better and some of the characters could have been fleshed out more, but there is not a moment in this movie that you are not on the edge of your seat, waiting to see how far the movie will go.

The horror.  The horror.

Stephen King's weakness with his long, sprawling works is bringing everything together for a satisfying conclusion.  Many films, like the excellent THE MIST, have altered the ending to better suit the big screen.  Bringing a seven hundred page novel to the screen in only two hours is a daunting task, but DREAMCATCHER overall works.  There is no way this will be looked at as the top film for any of the talent involved, but their collaborative effort works as a nice piece of entertainment.  You could do a lot worse than DREAMCATCHER, especially if you go in with your expectations in check.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!


About the Author

5934 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.