Stephen King’s novels are traditionally ideal for cinematic adaptations, as seemingly every book he writes successfully finds its way to theatres. However, “Dreamcatcher,” his most recently filmed horror tale, proves utterly unsuitable for the screen and amounts to an incoherent alien thriller that certainly will not please his most devoted horror fans.
Pete (Timothy Olyphant), Henry (Thomas Jane), Beaver (Jason Lee) and Jonesy (Damien Lewis) lead independent yet closely linked-lives, forever bonded by a shared childhood experience in their hometown of Derry, Maine. They rescued a boy, known to them as Duddits (Donnie Wahlberg), from local bullies. He joined their circle of friends and bestowed upon them all a penchant for premonitions and superhuman foresight. Arriving at the cabin where they commemorate their brotherhood with annual hunting trips, the men are met by a ferocious blizzard that essentially detaches them from civilization.
Beaver and Jonesy come across a beleaguered hunter and Henry and Pete flip their car to avoid a stranded older lady. Both the hunter and the lady are having brutal stomach pains and are marked by red rashes on their faces. Aliens emerge from both people’s bodies, killing Beaver and injuring the others rather seriously. The men discover that the area in which they camp is quarantined by a renegade military officer, Col. Abraham Kurtz (Morgan Freeman). The ensuing action pits the men, Kurtz and his team against an alien force that only they, with the help of Duddits, can vanquish.
“Dreamcatcher” builds very promising initial suspense, as the vignettes from the characters’ lives and the trek into the mountains build an ominous foundation for the rest of the film; however, this opening, well-crafted suspense is soon left by the wayside.
The alien attacks, while technically sound, are unfulfilling and deflate any existent tension and suspense within audience members. Furthermore, Freeman’s role as a deranged alien hunter extraordinaire comes across as more comic than threatening. Generally, all that follows the initial complication is anticlimactic.
Whether this failed plot resolution and lack of desired suspense and terror is the fault of King as storyteller or of the filmmakers is ambiguous. Regardless, “Dreamcatcher” fails to capitalize on the potential it initially boasts.