"Someone once wrote that no man can know his own death, but to know the death of others…intimately – to watch the tricks the mind would surely perform to avoid the bitter truth – that was a clue to death’s nature…wasn’t it?"
At a glance:
Good performances, writing, and direction combine to make Dread a winning combination of psychological drama and sadistic gore
Our review (with spoilers):
Quaid (Shaun Evans) has been hiding from his past – when he was six, his parents were killed by an axe murderer - as he watched. Now he has inspired Stephen (Jackson Rathbone) to undertake an unusual film project –interviewing people about their greatest fears, about what they truly dread. Driven by Quaid, the film stops being something light to fulfill Stephen’s school assignment, and instead bares the souls of those who are interviewed, and of those making the film. Quaid also wants to deal with his own fears – the film project is part of it, and flushing his copious medications accelerates the unpredictable results of his ramped up aggression.
There’s much to think about and beautiful prose to provoke us in the Dread script – kudos to writer/director Anthony DiBlasi, who adapted a short story of the same name by horror guru Clive Barker. The interesting character interplay is punctuated by quick moments of sheer nightmare gore, fostered by Quaid’s dark past and nurtured in his future.
Now, those of you who know me know I don’t really like the more sadistic and gory aspects of horror films, nor do I particularly like getting cheap scares caused by noise combined with clever editing. So why am I watching (and reviewing) horror films? Good question, one that will especially be asked by those of you who love them, and particularly by those of you who love this one. Well, this one IS good – I give you that. I love these films in their ‘suspense’ modes, when we are waiting for something really bad to happen, but we don’t know if or when. When those really bad things happen, however, I don’t like to watch. I think about copycats during these moments. I don’t mind nightmare images, but I do mind people being sadistic. Dread has some heavy sadism, but I watched, because it was attached to interesting characters with back stories. And it was still intriguing to see just how far they would go. And they do go far. Unfortunately, some horror critics felt the film meandered. They don’t enjoy the buildup of suspense as much as I do. Go figure.
Rating: 3 of 4
Other reviewers said:
"Directed in an un-showy, controlled fashion with understated use of music and a total absence of contrived shock effects, Dread is a very impressive piece of work."
- Steven West (The Horror Review)