Dreamcatcher (2003)

Review first published by Daily Info – and genuinely one of my favourite scoops of studio-released batshit.

Director Lawrence Kasdan is best known for The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist and Body Heat, and any one of those titles would have been appropriate for his new film Dreamcatcher, with its snowbound setting, and its uninvited visitors who crave human warmth – except that this film, based on a Stephen King novel and co-written by the estimable William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men), is worlds apart from anything Kasdan – or indeed any director – has ever made before.

How many movies have you seen before where a major character spends half his time literally wandering the corridors of his ‘memory warehouse’ or staring wistfully out of the window of his own mind? What film features an antagonist with a nematoid creature as his sidekick? Who would dare cast Morgan Freeman as a badass (Colonel Abraham Curtis, who keeps telling people that they have ‘crossed the Curtis line’)? In which other movie does a character use a gun – once owned by John Wayne – as a telephone?

It is difficult to do justice to the plot of Dreamcatcher, but here’s something of an outline. Four friends since childhood, all blessed with strange psychic powers, go on their annual trip to a wintry cabin in Maine, where soon they are having to deal with a blizzard, lost hikers, malodorous burps, a virulent rash, a whole lot of blood, and something strange in the toilet. Then the mysterious English-accented Mr Gray (who keeps being called ‘Mr Gay’ by one idiot-savant character) turns up, pursued by a secret cadre of the US military – and before you know it, there’s an intrepid cross-country race against time to save no less than the human race as we know it.

Dreamcatcher is, in a word, insane. Preposterously overburdened with one incredible plot complication following fast upon another, and shifting breathlessly in tone from fart jokes to cancer pathos, the film never lets up, trampling over all logic and decorum on the way. Half Stand By Me, half The Shining, half American Pie, half The Thing, half Taken and half Scooby Doo – and if those figures don’t seem to add up, that’s only because this film truly gives 300%. It will leave you wishing to declare out loud your renewed faith in cinema’s power to confound – if, that is, you manage to scrape your jaw off the floor.

There has not been a Hollywood film so daftly fun in years – for this inspired lunacy is the Citizen Kane of ‘geeky telepath vs. toothy worm’ pictures.

Anton Bitel