Dreamcatcher (2021) Is a Song You Won’t Want To Hear Twice
First Wide Release: March 5, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Jacob Johnson
Writer: Jacob Johnson
Runtime: 108 Minutes
Starring: Niki Koss, Travis Burns, Zachary Gordon
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Two sisters and their friends attend an underground musical festival. What is supposed to be a night of debauchery they won’t remember will soon turn into a night they will not forget. After an unexpected death, a series of increasingly violent and chaotic events centering around a masked killer culminate at a Hollywood after party. Who is behind these slayings and why are they targeting them? Between EDM sets, drug laced encounters, and petty jealousy amongst friends and colleagues, no one will be left standing to face the music.
Dreamcatcher is a slasher as fresh as the bass drops that constitute its soundtrack: stale, disappointing, and expired.
The forty-eight-hour timeline is an odd narrative choice that makes the story bloated and confusing without adding much to it. It feels like a butchered amalgamation that attempts to blend the convoluted structure of 70s giallos, the overwrought comedy of 80s slashers, and self-referential meta nature of 90s teen screams without doing any of these eras justice. Additionally, it doesn’t have the production values to back up its ludicrous plot nor does it have the interesting kills or suspenseful chase scenes to justify its ghastly hour and forty-eight-minute runtime. The story skims on actual meat and instead focuses on petty personal drama between the cast of would-be victims.
Aside from Adrienne Wilkinson’s solid, if overindulgent, performance of Josephine, everyone here is awful. It doesn’t help that the characters are poorly developed, but none of them are interesting or likable enough to care about before they are hacked to bits. The only thing the script seems to do is pepper in one-liner after unfunny one-liner in an effort to hide the fact that nothing of note happens throughout most of the film. The dialogue is so poorly placed and delivered that it actively harms the small amount of momentum the film gains and crushes it within seconds.
Washed in neon haze and set to thumping EDM bass, Dreamcatcher doesn’t even do much with its interesting setting. What could have been a fun slasher set at a rave is relegated to a much less interesting afterparty at some half-rate McMansion. The one thing that could have set this slasher apart from its contemporaries and its over before it even begins? The only other avenue the film chooses to explore is some bizarre “Faust” and “Macbeth” comparisons between the wayward DJ and his inner angst. It comes off as pretentious rather than insightful.
Between abysmal pacing and dark humor that never lands, Dreamcatcher is a sordid slasher that offers nothing new except more wasted potential for the genre. Truthfully, I wanted to enjoy this film, but it never gave me much of a reason to care. Its story is muddled, tired, and well-worn of every cliché and plot contrivance created in terms of horror cinema. If I had to muster one positive thing to say about Dreamcatcher I’d say that the costume design is rather inspired. It is creepy and accessible enough to work as a slasher disguise while still feeling fresh and modern.
This latest indie effort is a dreadful slasher with a few good kills and a nice aesthetic but without any tension, intrigue, or finesse that one would hope from a modern effort. The biggest sin of it all is that it’s simply boring. Even the most ill-fated and dumb of slashers can be entertaining enough if it leans into so-bad-it’s-good territory. Dreamcatcher is just bad. I’m hopeful that this doesn’t kill the idea of an EDM killer in the vein of Freddy, Michael, or Jason that a future writer may create. It’s sad to say, but there’s hardly any redeemable factors here and I cannot in conscience recommend this film to anyone. Don’t be fooled by the gloss and neon and skip on the tickets to this sparsely attended festival.
Overall Score? 3/10