• 16 May - 22 May, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Secluded cabin. Demonic possession. Rustic artifacts. Creepy old lady. With a script from Dan V. Shea, filmmaker Kerry Harris, who also contributed to the original story outline, tosses these genre ingredients into a blender and turns it on medium. Harris’ debut feature, DreamKatcher cooks up a sometimes inspired, other times frustratingly mundane, chiller capped with a jarring, inconclusive ending.

The star-studded cast – Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, The Crazies), as Manhattan therapist Gail, Henry Thomas (The Haunting of Hill House), as her workaholic boyfriend Thomas, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong (The Banana Splits Movie), as Thomas’ son Josh, and horror matriarch Lin Shaye (Insidious, The Grudge), portraying a harbinger in the woods named Ruth – anchors the narrative with often emotionally-wrought character work. Moments of brilliance – the kitchen scene in which Josh wields the knife is of particular note here – elevate a B-level horror movie with some nasty, nail-biting imagery.

The story follows Gail, Thomas, and Josh heading upstate to decompress, but the recent death of Josh’s mother, who allegedly drowned in the nearby lake, hangs a terrifying shroud around the property. Mitchell’s turn as Gail, a newcomer into the broken family dynamic, is outstanding; she drains each scene with a palpable desperation, as she attempts to connect with Josh, whose demeanor is understandably bad-tempered, keep him safe, and discover a sense of purpose.

Even before the trio can properly settle in, Thomas is called back into the city and leaves Gail to wrangle Josh’s hot-headed behaviour as best she can. A scenic hike through the surrounding woodlands leads Gail and Josh to stumble upon Ruth’s concealed artifact and craft shop – displaying a wide array of dreamcatchers and other trinkets supposedly used to ward off or capture evil spirits. Gail is quick to note the underlying appropriation which often occurs between white settlers and native tribes. To which Ruth reminds her of humanity’s distinctly universal endeavours to understand and, perhaps, control otherworldly forces through religion and faith.

Throughout the remaining runtime, Josh, haunted by his dead mother, a form the malevolent entity takes to worm inside his head, slowly descends into madness.

DreamKatcher most certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, or break new ground, but it’s the kind of VOD release that is exciting, nonetheless.