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Dread (2009)

Screenplay and Directed by Anthony DiBlasi Based on short story by Clive Barker

  The concept for this film may seem similar in that it gets the basic idea from Alfred Kinsey. Perhaps you have seen the movie rightfully titled, Kinsey with Liam Neeson (great film, but I digress). Any who, his whole idea of doing a sex study made for not only great research but a great idea in general on how to get people to open up on this otherwise, “sensitive” topic. Of which turned into an idea on experimenting with fear in the same context. Having others open up on their first moment of fear, triggers and the final push of experiencing it up close and personal to finally confront it and have their fear not get the best of them. Unless, it did, of course.

  We all have fears, Stephen Grace’s (Jackson Rathbone) involves his brother who had passed away when he was just 15. Drunk driving and involved in an accident that Stephen could have just as easily been apart of, something that had haunted him ever since happening. While at school and taking a smoke break he’s interrupted by a stranger, Quaid (Shaun Evans) who asks to bum one and begins a rather “random” discussion about finding the beast or it finding you. Continued on later at a bar, Stephen confesses of his brother’s story when asked what the worst thing that had happened to him was. Other than that leading a pretty dull life, something Quaid doesn’t seem to take to heart. Having quite the story himself involving his own childhood, choosing to keep it private for the moment. Catching him within his nightmare of that atrocious night as we see a man having grabbed an ax from his fathers tool shed. Upon entering his house, hacks his father and mother in front of him and slowly walks upstairs but wakes before final contact is made. It seems he had gotten away and had been running ever since in fear that one day, he’d return to finish him off.

  The two’s friendship develops as the topic of doing a fear study seems to be the only thing on Quaid’s mind. Stephen eventually gives in and asks if able to bring in classmate Cheryl for their work, needing an editor. They begin posting flyers for their quest which only turns into a frustrating and grueling process. The entire project used as well for Stephen and Cheryl’s thesis; which also gave Quaid a bit of room to get away with anything, should he hear complaints. His anger streaming more from the fact that all people seemed to want to share was their fear of spiders, clowns and the dark, oh my! Saying all of it was not good enough as Cheryl cuts in and asks to be interviewed on tape. She begins speaking about being younger and how her father would work late by which her mother would be in bed upon getting home. Unsure of whether her mother actually had no idea what was going on or if she was just too weak to do anything about it. Forever remembering the smell of metallic and meat and not being able to consume any meat since. Exactly what Quaid had been searching for and decides to drop his medication down the sink and “experiment” a little on his own. Arguably changing him…but whose to say that it wasn’t in part, that medication that helped shape her persona to what he was before getting off the meds. His nightmares worsen. He sees this…killer, everywhere he goes. The one upside lately being a recent interview in which the subject discussed being momentarily deaf in his younger years (which actually happened to Barker as a child) and how losing that connection to the world, even talking bout it, brought back that same sense of Dread. “You live with the notion that the thing that causes you the most terror can come back at any time.”

  With Quaid busy facing his demons Stephen had been splitting his time between Cheryl and co-worker Abby, (Laura Donnelly) who asks to be interviewed later that night but comfortable if only by him. Agreeing and after setting up later discusses her first day of Kindergarten. She wasn’t there 10 minutes before someone had asked what was wrong with her face; not just her face but her entire right side of her body was covered. Doing something wouldn’t ordinarily do, feeling close to him and wanting to kiss him, she undresses down to her underwear. But told that his heart was in another place and Abby is immediately embarrassed, demanding he leave at once. Forced to go to Quaid’s and ask him to retrieve the tapes. He only feeds into her current bruised ego by stating that “Beauty is unique.” Going out with her later as she asks to be painted “normal” (Quaid acquiring a hobby of painting nude women) as they embark in a sexual escapade that’s interrupted when Quaid pulls back to reveal Abby’s body split in half with her guts hanging out; just a nightmare.

  With things seeming constant and no promising stories they soon receive a volunteer who begins telling her tale. After being diagnosed with Agoraphobia and becoming completely dependent on her mother, a severe hatred grew towards her just the same. Passing away when she was 21, she couldn’t, would not leave the house. It had been three weeks before the neighbors began noticing the smell of which had been a good thing due to her contemplating suicide. Claiming to have died for five minutes and coming back fearless, Quaid responds with complete outrage, calling her a liar. Turning out to be simply a part wanting for her “acting reel.” The whole thing too much for him to handle. Stephen and Cheryl still hadn’t figured out that none of this had ever been about their thesis as he smashes their computer and what they assume to be only copies of their work.

  Alas, the ever apologizing asshole is given one last chance as it seems he had gone ahead and finished the report for the pair, receiving a B+. Still claiming the need of taking their examining to a higher level. Turning into the last straw for Stephen as Quaid begins driving recklessly while sipping on a bottle having brought, exclaiming he couldn’t always have control. Barely missing a wall Stephen leaves as Quaid returns to his house to find Cheryl otherwise snooping; finding a hidden door she so nicely lets herself into. Finding all of his paintings mutilated, he slowly approaches while telling her to ask him what he wanted. The next scene that he sets up for certainly being a bit taxing to watch. By taking his study to the next level, he simply wanted people to be confronted by their fears and to “face the beast” head on to see who would be victorious. Witnessing death up close and personal being the ultimate goal for Quaid. Setting up cruel “tests” and the effects being almost too difficult to look at the screen for certain parts.

  The “surprises” certainly being something that’s needed to watch in order to get the full effect of. The ending was so fantastic and I almost wish there was a sequel. I just can’t see it being done without being in the same ball park as the Saw series if continued. Either way, great twists are thrown in. The last shot was actually a bit reminiscent of the end of Saw but I rather liked that about it. Evans did a fantastic job as the antagonist, the best part being that whether he is even that can solely be determined by you. The other hand being simply a visionary with a “unique” area of interest. What other way would/could you expect to study such? A bit maliciousness, sure, but hey, that’s life sometimes. The only thing I recall Rathbone in, was The Last Airbender and I don’t even remember that too much. Apparently he makes his moolah being one of those sparkly things but I’m sorry, I’d rather not bother with those films. Of the two females I’d say I preferred Donnelly who was quite stunning with or without the birthmarks. Her and Steen were given the most grueling “test” to endure (I thought) and both did exceptional jobs in making it hurt the audience just as much as it hurt them. Barker discusses in the features that this is unlike his other work in that it doesn’t involve any of the supernatural realm and instead focuses on our worst enemies, our self. *tear* But actually, a greatly directed and thought out film. There’s as well a great shot of when the ax is dragged up the stairs that I’m sure most of you will enjoy as well. So what are you waiting for? ~GetLost