Combustible Celluloid
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With: Radha Mitchell, Henry Thomas, Lin Shaye, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong
Written by: Kerry Harris, Dan V. Shea
Directed by: Kerry Harris
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content, and language
Running Time: 86
Date: 05/01/2020

Dreamkatcher (2020)

1 Star (out of 4)

Katching Hell

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The majority what's wrong with this awful horror movie lies with the constantly frustrating characters, who make inexplicably dumb decisions and behave in ways that have nothing to do with reality.

In Dreamkatcher, musician and widower Luke (Henry Thomas) decides to move with his young son Josh (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) and his child psychologist girlfriend Gail (Radha Mitchell) to the remote house where his wife drowned in a nearby lake. Soon, he's called away to the city for work, leaving Gail behind with the troubled Josh, the latter suffering terrible nightmares wherein he's visited by malevolent visions of his dead mother.

On a hike, Gail and Josh run into a weird shop, run by the strange Ruth (Lin Shaye), that sells "dreamcatchers." Josh asks for one, but Gail doesn't believe in them and refuses. So Josh steals one from a barn. Unfortunately it turns out to be a "dreamkatcher," or an evil, twisted version of the more familiar kind. Soon, Josh's nightmares grow worse, and a real-life threat looms.

While actors Mitchell and Thomas at least appear to be trying, it makes no sense, and is never explained, why Luke would move his family back to a death house, and then, why he would leave his girlfriend and his son behind in a remote place with no car and no cell phone service. That's bad enough, but Gail never once acts like a proper child psychologist, frequently losing her temper and snapping at the boy, and otherwise refusing to do things that might make sense. But Dreamkatcher doesn't stop there.

Despite being played by the great horror character actor Lin Shaye, the Ruth character is unnecessarily weird, and also seemingly has the power to suddenly teleport into scenes. As a scare movie, Dreamkatcher isn't scary, relying exclusively on creaky old genre staples: predictable sound effects, creepy child's drawings, dreams-within-dreams, and fake-looking digital blood.

But those things are secondary to the fact that the characters are impossible to care about; there's nobody to be scared for. Add all that to an irritating non-ending, and this one is a dud. The only saving grace is another good, creepy music score by composer Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring), who also briefly appears as a monster.

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