First impressions paint Dreamcatcher as a slasher flick with promise. The opening scene is gripping, and hints that solid scares may be on the horizon. Unfortunately, what follows is a film that fails to deliver on initial expectations.
At the start, we meet Pierce (Niki Koss) and her friend Jake (Zachary Gordon). The two are settling in for a Friday night full of horror films. Their evening goes from quiet to chaos upon the arrival of Pierce’s estranged sister, Ivy (Elizabeth Posey), and her friend Brecken (Emrhys Cooper).
After a cold greeting between the two sisters, the mood changes when Ivy tells the others she’s scored tickets to the exclusive EDM festival, Cataclysm. Jake is hesitant, but goes along as it’s clear he’ll do anything for Pierce.
Shortly after their arrival, Pierce meets a man named Dylan (Travis Burns), also known as DJ Dreamcatcher. He’s a headliner at the event, and someone she sees as a major catch. She then goes off alone with him despite protests and insults from her sister and best friend.
Alone in Dylan’s dressing room, the two get high on peyote and a dream-like sequence follows for Pierce. Of course, the euphoric moment is too good to be true. Soon, the excitement of the evening turns shocking and disastrous for all involved. More players arrive on the scene, including Dylan’s agent, Josephine (Adrienne Wilkinson), and the plot thickens.
After the group leaves the festival, the film begins to fall apart. What could’ve been an earlier attempt at character development consumes a large chunk of the film now. We catch glimpses of each character’s background and motivation within scenes of drawn-out dialogue. What started out as an action-packed story with promise begins to drag.
Some of the conversation contains cringe-inducing lines. There are cheesy one-liners at times and the characters are overdone versions of the typical roles you’d find in a young adult slasher film. These characters were difficult to invest in, which makes the lull in the middle of the film even more lackluster. The tension dies down and it becomes difficult to remain interested in the story.
Things finally ramp up again during the last 20 minutes or so, when the group attends an album release party for DJ Dreamcatcher. At this point, no one is safe, as it’s not quite clear who the murderer is.
We’ve been led astray by a plot line involving Dylan’s agent and her interest in his demise. Earlier scenes also point to the best friend as the possible murderer. Throughout the film, the masked killer is shown in a costume matching the one DJ Dreamcatcher wears on stage.This does add to some mystery to the plot, but not enough to save the film.
There’s a twist at the end that might have some viewers surprised, but when it all comes together it’s a bit confusing. Throughout the entire film there’s an attempt at sharing a deeper meaning, but it takes away from the enjoyment. There are elements of other sub genres, bits of Shakespeare, and a hint of supernatural involvement that is never fully explained.
Dreamcatcher had potential to be great, but it fell short overall due to the flat characters and too much mixing of subgenres. Had the filmmakers kept the slasher setup and not veered so far off course, it would’ve been more enjoyable. Instead, certain elements seem out of place. The positive aspects are overshadowed by attempts to add hints of a psychological thriller and the supernatural. Unfortunately, the film’s intent is lost in this maze when it could’ve been a memorable slasher.
Dreamcatcher is available on digital and VOD as of March 5.
WICKED RATING: 4/10