For his feature-length debut, writer and director Kerry Harris mashes several subgenres together. After a limited release in 2020, Dreamkatcher is widely available now on VOD streaming services. There’s bits of ‘creepy kids‘ horror along with ‘haunted objects‘ and a ‘terrible place‘ in the form of … yes, an isolated cabin. Personally, I’d like to know where characters in horror movies find these places where there are literally no neighbours. Of course, it’s also a cabin where there’s no cellular signal. This should probably hint at the kind of horror experience that Dreamkatcher offers. As an added bonus, the supernatural thriller throws in some stepmother conflict like the recent – and much better – The Lodge.
A few years after his wife’s death, Luke brings his son, Josh, and new girlfriend, Gail, back to a cabin for a weekend getaway. But when work calls him back into the city, Gail is left alone with her stepson, Josh, who resents her new role in his life. And just as Gail bonds with Josh, they stumble across a elderly neighbour selling antiques and trinkets. Josh, intrigued by an old ‘dreamcatcher’, sneaks it home to ward off the bad dreams about his mother. Yet instead of ridding himself of the nightmares, Josh’s stolen’ dreamcatcher opens a doorway to a malevolent spirit. Slowly, Josh’s behaviour changes and Gail finds herself fearing for her life.
Dreamkatcher Burdened by Lifeless Scares and Limp Storytelling
At just under 90 minutes, Dreamkatcher won’t take up much of your time. And pacing certainly isn’t an issue for writer and director Kerry Harris’ feature-length debut. Harris wastes little time getting to his scares with a prologue that hints at some potential creeps. But a winding camera shot of the car trip to the cabin over the opening credits feels reminiscent of The Shining. Thus, Dreamkatcher’s big problem crops up almost immediately. There’s few original ideas in Harris’ screenplay. With dashes of ‘creepy kids’ horror and ‘haunted objects’, Dreamkatcher feels like it’s more interested in checking off boxes than telling a good story.
Why would a father take his son and new girlfriend to a cabin where his wife was murdered? The answer is probably simple – we wouldn’t have a movie otherwise.
What’s worse is that Kerry’s basic narrative makes little sense. Whether it’s the arbitrary flipping of dreamcatcher’s spiritual use or a plot that needs characters to do stupid things, Dreamkatcher tells a a . Why would a father take his son and new girlfriend to a cabin where his wife was murdered? The answer is probably simple – we wouldn’t have a movie otherwise. And this seems to be the driving force behind Dreamkatcher. It’s the kind of movie that could have ended in 10 minutes had characters just been a bit forthcoming about things like how their last wife died. One could forgive Kerry’s weak plot if Dreamkatcher was a scary movie. Too bad it’s not. As it stands, Dreamkatcher’s jumps are as telegraphed as the story itself.
Lin Shaye Probably Can’t Wait for Another Chapter in the Insidious Saga
As much as horror fans love Lin Shaye (Insidious, The Grudge), she’s clearly acting on autopilot. That is, Shaye has played this role across several horror movies in the past. Vaguely creepy, somewhat mysterious, knows more than they let on – Shaye could play this role in her sleep at this point in her career. There was very little Shaye could have done to elevate Dreamkatcher. Nonetheless, it’s disappointing to watch someone as talented as Shaye go through the motions. Both Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, Rogue) and Henry Thomas (The Haunting of Hill House) acquit themselves about as well as one could expect. Shea’s screenplay does neither actor any favours. Mitchell and Thomas are forced to humanize characters who make incredibly stupid ‘horror movie’ decisions.
Dreamkatcher Will Likely Fail to Catch Most Horrors Fans’ Interests
In spite of its good cast and decent production values, Dreamkatcher is an unremarkable horror movie. Nothing about this effort is likely to interest audiences. In addition to a convoluted, formulaic story, Dreamkatcher lacks atmosphere and scares. An unnecessary post-credits scene only throws salt onto the wounds left by the movie’s terrible ending. Of course, I’d imagine that most viewers will have turned the movie off as soon the credits hit the screen. Sadly, even in the absence of major theatrical releases, Dreamkatcher is a pass.