Director -Anthony DiBlasi
Cast – Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Evans, Hanne Steen, Laura Donnelly, Jonathan Readwin, Vivian Gray, Carl McCrystal
Release Year -2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Much like Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker’s stories have been taken by others and turned into memorable watches like and The Midnight Meat Train, and some less-than-favorable experiences like Book of Blood. Seeing that Dread came from a first-time writer/director and was part of the truly mediocre Horrorfest 2010 series, I went into this with a cautious open mind, and thankfully found this dark tale to be a positive horror experience, as well as one of the better Horrorfest flicks.
When lonely film student Stephen Grace(Jackson Rathbone) receives an opportunity from a new friend of his, Quaid(Shaun Evans), to work on a project studying people’s deepest fears, he sees this as good potential for his thesis and invites his friend Cheryl(Hanne Steen) to work among them. What starts off as simply interviewing people at random regarding their deepest fears soon turns to dread when Stephen takes notice to Quaid’s unusual obsession with achieving results and finding “the beast”, leaving all those involved in mortal danger when Quaid takes the project to the next level.
I have a genuine love for anything involving Clive Barker, and that comes as a result of his horrific stories that blend unique horror, deep macabre, and numerous other elements that most studios do not have the guts to employ. The storyline for Dread is an awesome one overall and gives us a unique take on psychological horror and human depravity thanks to the project getting out of hand. I have come across other films involving protagonists coming face to face with their deepest fears, but I had yet to see one involving the study of such things, so I found that very interesting and it aided the pacing of the film due to how engaging it was. The characters involved contributed heavily to the film, and I applaud writer/director Anthony DiBlasi for an excellent writing job that used them to their full potential. Stephen and Quaid run the story, and their relationship brings the best and the worst out of each of them, which slowly involves the film’s other characters until we have a full-blown character-driven deadly mess on our hands that I had lots of fun watching. At times I found Quaid unlikable, which I was a bit saddened over given I love having a likeable antagonist, but nonetheless I must say that he is one of the best antagonists I have seen in a long while. His methods are brutal, and his drive for answers is unwavering even in the face of being killed or caught. We are given no useless characters, and each comes with their own personas and demons that are fully exploited by DiBlasi, as well as Quaid at times. While we receive glimpses of good horror in the form of actual scores, the horror we are given is of the psychological variety, and the insane antics that take place when composure is lost and the drive to keep seeking answers takes its toll on all of those involved. I enjoyed this because simply put, the tables were turned on those seeking answers to fear, and they were faced with fear of their own that they never saw coming. Nearly the entire film plays on DiBlasi’s character play, and the final act delivers heavily on the resulting horror the students opened the door to, and consisted of pure horrific awesomeness. There was one little tidbit that I took issue with during the final act, only because I found it a bit confusing and had to make some far-fetched logical sense to understand it, which if you must do so then the writing has failed, but overall there are few faults with this Barker story, which was modified quite a bit to give us a full-length exerience.
DiBlasi’s direction is good, and he sells the story with awesome cinematography and atmosphere. The sets used were dark, gloomy, and dreadful, providing the necessary visual elements to set up the horror that would come not in full-frontal scare form, but in a well-written character-driven aspect. As mentioned earlier, we get a few scenes involving real “scares”, and despite them never amounting to anything big I found those scares highly effective and they now having me wishing that DiBlasi would do an outright scarefest and show us what he’s got. His execution of the main horror in the film, the horror between his characters, is fantastic, and he gets a tremendous performance from Shaun Evans as Quaid. Evans fails to show that he has a limited acting resume and proved himself as someone who I can see making a name for himself in the genre much like DiBlasi is now doing so long as he doesn’t head the route of co-actor Jason Rathbone in taking part in the Twilight “Saga”, as Jasper Hale. Surprisingly enough, this character-driven experience delivered some great gore and good shock-value, which thanks to DiBlasi’s execution is sure to stay with the viewer for a while after the credits roll. A sweet soundtrack compliments his awesome visuals, and while it may not have been intentional this high artistic value played well with Stephen being a film student, heh.
Overall, Dread is a great horror film that delivers heavily on horrific dread thanks to Barker’s storyline and DiBlasi’s adaptation and directing execution. This character-driven flick manages to deliver high levels of horror and shock value, shock-value that I see as truly memorable and one of the biggest reasons behind this being one of the better Horrorfest flicks and Clive Barker adaptations. I recommend this to those who in search of a unique horror experience with all of the horror and macabre associated with Clive Barker.