20 − 9 =

seventeen + 11 =

Dreamcatcher figures out a way to upend time itself, as its core cast of characters all descends into an eternal, slow-moving madness. Where other indie horror flicks extend needless scenes of setup or ephemeral development of their thin characters, just to reach a solid goal of at least 80 minutes, Dreamcatcher soars past the mark, inserting scene after scene of conversation that stutters the film where it should be picking up the pace, and calling its entire mission into question. It takes place during a 48-hour EDM festival, but it didn't utilize all 48 of those hours in telling its story.
Still from Dreamcatcher

Decisions: There is a shadowy blend of gothic inspiration that is informing the psychological or horror elements, and it's a strange, yet admirable effort to intermingle EDM culture with a more buttoned-up era of horror, one where its characters would react to murder not with hysteria but with irrationally rational behavior, but the way the dominoes fall in Dreamcatcher leaves little believable wiggle room for its characters. You'd think that once bodies start falling, rules start getting ignored, walls start coming down; anything for these characters to be freed from their collective nightmare, but instead, they sit around and talk. They — and by extension the film itself — let time pass, fumbling with their own feelings instead of giving into fight-or-flight instinct. Watching it play out over an hour and fifty minutes is a combination of boring and maddening.

Still from Dreamcatcher

Unbelievable Characters: Dreamcatcher's fatal flaw is not the choice to develop multiple interconnected characters — it's that they seek out selfish and emotionally oblivious pathways as a response to the film's events. When death comes knocking at the festival, and a hair-twirling talent agent — played up to a degree of evil that is downright cartoonish — submits herself to covering it up. There is simply no fight to be found within the protagonists of Dreamcatcher. It makes the whole exercise somewhat pointless when nobody will chance to call the police, alarming other festival-goers, or ripping some piping off the wall and defending themselves. The actions of Dreamcatcher's ensemble expose them as either stupid, pathological, or both, as it becomes bewilderingly apparent that they might be putting the vibe of the festival over someone's death — even as they're hunted down one by one. The film's masked killer operates less like a character and more as a way to refocus your attention because these scenes are the only ones driving the plot forward in a way that's meaningful to the inciting incident. However, they're dwarfed by the film's commitment to its characters' idiocy.

Dreamcatcher is one of the least urgent slasher films you could watch, but to be fair, its slasher elements are small potatoes compared to its desire to give you a mumblecore examination of the trauma that affluent young adults will go out of their way to afflict on themselves.

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Dreamcatcher
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