Clive Barker's Dread Review

Dread. The very word strikes fear into one's soul. As indeed does the prospect of another Clive Barker adaptation after the risible Books of Blood and the very popular, but not with me, Midnight Meat Train. This latest cinematic venture is based on a 1984 story from one of the "Books of Blood" anthologies. The original story is tough, mean and ruthlessly single-minded. The film isn't quite any of these things, although it tries very hard.

The rather splendidly named Jackson Rathbone plays Stephen, a film school loner who becomes friendly with an odd chap named Quaid (Evans). Quaid has more than a few demons in his past and this has led him to become fascinated with the concept of what people most fear. He persuades Stephen and Abby (Donnelly), one of Stephen's fellow students, to join him in documenting this in a collection of filmed interviews and while this begins well, Quaid's own obsessions begin to derail the project.

What keeps this movie going even when it's falling apart towards the end is an intensity which comes largely from Shaun Evans' vicious portrayal of Quaid. His American accent is dodgy to say the least but he captures a sense of real twisted perversity which you don't expect to find in a straight to DVD horror movie. This aura of deviant nastiness carries across to the movie which consequently rises above it's sub-Saw leanings to become surprisingly potent. Rathbone and Donnelly are very good too - indeed the acting is probably the best thing about the film. Director Anthony DiBlasi provides stylish visuals but there's a bit too much flash in the direction when a bit of grunginess wouldn't have gone amiss. This is that rare film which should perhaps look less accomplished than it does. I was also a little disappointed that the central premise of the film - the taped interviews - goes for so little since these could have been thoroughly discomfiting if allowed to develop.

Lionsgate's DVD of Clive Barker's Dread is pretty good with a pleasingly crisp and clear anamorphic presentation of the film and an atmospheric soundtrack with good use of the surrounds to creep out the unwary viewer. There are no extra features.

Category Capsule Review

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