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DREAD

There are some good things in this gorier-than-average Clive Barker adaptation, but itís a confused and mediocre movie overall.

The Package
     Clive Barkerís ďDreadĒ appears in volume 2 of the BOOKS OF BLOOD. Itís the only Clive Barker fiction without a supernatural component, and remains one of Barkerís sharpest and most disturbing stories, showcasing his demented imagination at its most unforgiving. This adaptation, from writer-director Anthony DiBlasi, was released in 2010, as part of the fourth installment of After Dark Filmsí Horrorfest.
     Other BOOKS OF BLOOD adaptations include RAWHEAD REX, CANDYMAN, LORD OF ILLUSIONS, THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN and BOOK OF BLOOD.

The Story
     The nerdy film student Stephen is befriended by a shadowy guy named Quaid. The latter is haunted by the murder of his mother by an ax-wielding psycho, which Quaid witnessed as a child. Quaid talks Stephen into making a documentary about peoplesí deepest fears, on which they enlist another film student, the staunchly vegetarian Cheryl. Like Quaid, she suffered a childhood trauma that scarred her irrevocably, as for that matter did Stephen.
     The documentary comes to focus on Abby, a girl with a massive birth mark covering the right half of her body. Abby attempts to seduce Stephen, and when that fails she moves onto Quaid, whoís only too happy to give her what she wants. But this only renders Quaid nuttier than he was already, and he becomes quite temperamental with Stephen and Cheryl. They decide to abandon the documentary, and Quaid along with it. The latter, however, has other plans.
     In short order Quaid plays a video of Abby undressing on the school PA system, which inspires her to bleach her skin and scrub it with steel wool. Quaid also kidnaps Shaun, a young man who in the documentary described his childhood trauma of being momentarily rendered deaf; inspired by the recollection, Quaid deafens the guy with a gunshot.
     Quaidís final outrage involves Cheryl. He locks her in a room with a piece of beef, which she, being the diehard vegetarian she is, steadfastly resists eating. But as the days stretch on she grows steadily hungrier, and finally devours the meat--even though by then itís rancid and maggot-ridden.
     But Quaid hasnít counted on the fact that Stephen is none too happy with him. Nor is the guy he deafened, who has been driven completely insane by Quaidís harassment.

The Direction
     In this film writer/director Anthony DiBlasi digressed from Clive Barkerís story in many respects, some of them good, most of them not-so. In the good category are the revamped characterizations, particularly that of the protagonist Stephen, a nonentity in the story (weak characterizations are Barkerís biggest problem as a writer) who as played by TWILIGHTíS Jackson Rathbone is a reasonably well-characterized film school nerd (in fact, the protagonist of Barkerís story is here relegated to a supporting part). In the not-so-good category, DiBlasi has diluted the narrativeís focus with too many subplots, most notably that of the tormented Abby (played by Laura Donnelly), a character who wasnít in the story and ultimately adds little to the proceedings.
     Thereís plenty of gore, of course, in a film that can be safely categorized as torture-porn. Some of the bloodletting is actually quite startling--a hallucination involving a womanís legs separated from her torso is a definite attention-getter, as is the climactic meat torture--while at other points the grue merely feels gratuitous and silly.
     To add to the complaints, the film has a murky, desaturated look thatís not merely ugly, but actually ruins some of the gorier moments (such as a vision of pooling blood, which as seen through this filmís yucky color scheme looks more like barbeque sauce). Ultimately, though, itís the poor storytelling that does DREAD in.
 

Vital Statistics

DREAD
After Dark Films/Essential Entertainment

Director: Anthony DiBlasi
Producers: Clive Barker, Jorge Saralegui, Joe Daley, Nigel Thomas, Charlotte Walls, Lauri Apelian
Screenplay: Anthony DiBlasi
Cinematography: Sam McCurdy
Editing: Celia Haining
Cast: Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Evans, Hanne Steen, Laura Donnelly, Jonathan Readwin, Vivian Gray, Carl McCrystal, Derek Lea, Siobhan Hewlett, Kieran Murphy, Cheyanne Raymond
 

     

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