There are some good things in this gorier-than-average Clive Barker
adaptation, but itís a confused and mediocre movie overall.
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,
OF ILLUSIONS, THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN and BOOK OF BLOOD.
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
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.
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.
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