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  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
from Film Forum, 03/27/03

The films that opened this week received such terrible reviews, and will disappear so quickly from theatres, it is probably not worth discussing them.

Dreamcatcher finds a talented director (The Big Chill's Lawrence Kasdan) and an Oscar-winning writer (The Princess Bride's William Goldman) turning loose a sci-fi/horror film that fails to frighten us in any way except by how truly awful it is.

The movie is about four men who grew up together and were "gifted" with psychic powers. When aliens invade the snowy woods nearby and try to poison the world's water system, the men find themselves surrounded by fearsome beasties that inhabit human bodies, cause a bad rash, and then burst out the back end (to put it nicely.) Morgan Freeman plays a military officer whose long years trying to stop such invasions have pushed him to the edge of sanity.

You can read my full review of this unbearably preposterous, bloody, and nauseating monster movie at Looking Closer.

CNN's reviewer calls it "unspeakably bad—and shockingly so—considering that it's an adaptation of a Stephen King novel, from the director of The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan) and the writer of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (William Goldman). These are people who have Oscars and Oscar nominations, people who have worked in this business long enough that there's no plausible explanation for a film that is so woefully unfocused and misguided."

Jerry Langford (Movieguide) says, "Moviegoers … may even hear a director shouting somewhere in the background, "Keep the plot moving so that viewers won't have time to think! Faster! Faster!""

Bob Smithouser (Focus on the Family) says, "The film isn't just ridiculously overstuffed and incoherent. It's disgusting. Obscenities and sexual dialogue notwithstanding, it's swimming in blood and gore. Excuse me while I attempt to purge my memory warehouse of the file marked Dreamcatcher."

You can scan mainstream reviews of the movie here.

from Film Forum, 04/03/03

Last week, religious press critics joined mainstream reviewers in their astonishment and dismay that such talented filmmakers as director Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Grand Canyon) and screenwriter William Goldman (The Princess Bride) could deliver such a nauseating, disjointed, and cliché-ridden affair as Dreamcatcher.

This week, a Catholic film critic defends the much-maligned adaptation of Steven King's story about alien invasions of the intestinal kind. Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP(The Tidings) calls it "one of the most frightening … and effective movies of the year so far." She seems to think the film falls right in line with Kasdan's previous triumphs."

She also praises Steven King for weaving in "themes of life, death, redemption, the symmetry of justice and the comfort of knowing that human relationships can endure beyond the worst fears a person can have. This stark, winter tale … becomes a saga of the redemptive sacrifice of love: blood for blood."

Other Christian critics disagree, joining last week's chorus of dismay. Mike Parnell (Ethics Daily) says, "Dreamcatcher … tries too hard to be all things and winds up being nothing. Avoid [it] like the plague spoken of in its story. It will rank as one of the 10 worst films for 2003."

And J. Robert Parks (The Phantom Tollbooth) writes, "Fans of bad movies will find much to appreciate in Dreamcatcher—howlers instead of dialogue, mind-boggling motives instead of plot twists, and random acts of stupidity instead of a narrative arc. But even those in favor of cheese will find themselves disappointed. The movie is surprisingly inconsistent. What starts off as a raging gore-fest turns positively squeamish in the last half."