One of the best films in this year’s After Dark Horrorfest
DREAD, one of the selections in the 2010 After Dark Horrorfest, has a strong pedigree - based on the Clive Barker story of the same name, which originally appeared in the second volume of his Books of Blood series in 1984. Barker also served as one of the film’s producers. Jackson Rathbone (TWILIGHT, NEW MOON) and Hanne Steen co-star as Stephen and Cheryl, a pair of film students who meet Quaid (Shaun Evans), an older student majoring in philosophy. Quaid is preoccupied with the concept of fear and with good reason…when he was just a little boy he witnessed his parents murdered in front of him by an ax-wielding maniac who was never caught. Quaid has been on medication for years to treat the psychosis brought on by this traumatic event, but is seen dumping his meds down the bathroom drain early on.
Quaid is haunted both in his dreams and waking nightmares by his parent’s murders. He hallucinates seeing people killed in front of him, their wounds mimicking those of his parents. This is played out in one of DREAD’s gorier scenes as Quaid sees a stripper on stage gashed by an invisible ax. Quaid convinces Stephen and Cheryl to do a film study for their thesis, interviewing numerous subjects about their worst fears. Quaid however quickly becomes frustrated by the interview subjects and their mundane stories of being afraid of spiders or clowns; he is looking for something more visceral.
He finds exactly what he’s looking for with Cheryl, who relates how her father sexually abused her when she was a child. Quaid also preys on Stephen’s fears by buying him a Mustang, the same model year, and color that his older brother was killed in several years earlier. You begin to wonder what Quaid’s endgame is and to what lengths he will go to find the things that people dread most.
DREAD delights in its overall grim and gloomy tone and look. Director Anthony DiBlasi makes heavy use, perhaps too heavy, of shadows and low light. There are numerous shots of characters standing in doorways, only their outlines visible due to the shadows. There’s an interesting chemistry between Stephen and Quaid. Quaid becomes a kind of mentor to Stephen, helping him escape from his admittedly boring life and providing a streak of danger to the meek film student. DiBlasi does a fantastic job of developing each of the characters, delving deep into their psyches and chiseling their weaknesses out with precision. We can believe these are actual college students by their mannerisms and behavior. It’s nice to see a horror film in which college students are portrayed as intelligent and thoughtful instead of sophomoric and preoccupied with partying and sex.
For a film based on a Clive Barker story, DREAD is not excessively gory; however, it does make great use of its handful of grotesque scenes, one of which doesn’t involve any blood at all but rather just a rotting steak that is enough to put you off eating meat for life. The film builds somewhat slowly but with great purpose. It is a harrowing look at a truly disturbed personality and one of the best films included in this year’s After Dark Horrorfest.
DREAD is one of the few DVDs in this year’s batch that features some worthwhile extras. These include:
- Featurette “Facing the Fear: Behind the Scenes of Dread” (12:00). Your typical behind-the-scenes piece with interviews with cast members, the director, and Clive Barker.
- Featurette “A Conversation with Clive Barker” (19:36) Barker discusses his original story of “dread” and the genesis of the story that came from his own experiences in college and dealing with another student whom he detested and became the basis for Quaid.
- Deleted Scenes (4:02) the deleted scenes feature a celebration in a bar with Stephen, Quaid and Cheryl after their project was complete and another scene in which Quaid hallucinates several gory images.
Dread (2010) Directed by Anthony Diblasi. Written by Clive Barker and Anthony DiBlasi. Cast: Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Evans, Hanne Steen.
Read more about After Dark Horrorfest 2010 by clicking the links below:
- Hellraiser 20th anniversary DVD (0.696)
- Midnight Meat Train arrives on May 16 (0.696)
- Laserblast: Quarantine, Midnight Meat Train, Feast III (0.696)
- Midnight Meat Train pulls into the home video station : Blu-ray Review (0.696)
- Barker Disowns 'Hellraiser: Revelations'—Trailer (0.696)
- HELLRAISER's Ashley Laurence: The CFQ Interview, Ep. 104 (0.696)
- Zombies of Mass Destruction - DVD Review (0.304)