This one of course was one of the one's that caught my eye mainly because it was written and produced by Clive Barker.Of course the Midnight Meat Train also caught by eye because of Barker and that one to me was forgettable.Is Dread any better than Midnight Meat Train?Quite Simply,Yes,much better and much more realisic,disturbing and intelligent.
The Plot: Stephen Grace is a quiet,boring an somewhat independent college student who is majoring in film.Stephen meets the charismatic,charming and much more outgoing Quaid who Stephen is somewhat drawn too in an almost homophobic way.Not long after meeting,Quaid comes up with an idea for Stephens thesis film:A documentary on the study of fear.With the help of his film editor Cheryl from class,the three set out to document people's deepest fears or dread if you will.
Not satisfied with what they are getting from their interviews,the three eventually turn the camera's on themselves and they finally get what they are looking for but at their own costs.Director Anthony Diblasi does a great job in creating mulitlayered and likable characters who actually aren't dumb and who almost act like real college students would.We feel for each of these characters as we learn about their horrific past.While Stephen and Cheryl are quick to tell about their past,Quaid isn't very interested in letting them in on his secret(his parents were slaughtered by an axe wielding madman right in front of him as a child).Quaid Finally does let Stephen in on this and we begin to see cracks in Quaid. It soon becomes obvious that Quaid is a bit off and lets say a bit unbalanced.He has terrible visions and horrible dreams of that fateful night his parents were murdered.By doing this study Quaid hopes to be able to overcome his weakness and face his beast by using other peoples fears.To Stephen and Cheryl this is just a school project,but for Quaid,it's much,much more.He eventually becomes lost in this quest for fear and soon forces others to relive their pasts in sick and disturbing ways.
Acting:Really good job by the whole cast.Stephen(played by Jasper in twlight..real name Jackson Rathbone) is an easy lead character to root for.He is smart and sensitive and not at all annoying despite being somewhat of an outcast. Strong pefromance by Laura Donnelly who I hadn't mentioned earlier,she plays Stephens good friend,who has a horrible birthmark on the side of her face.Donnelly nails is and comes across as a confident character instead of the pathetic,feel sorry for outcast.Kudos also to Quaid(Shaun Evans) who was brilliant as the charismatic but ultimately flawed antagonist.Whenever he is onscreen you are at edge because something deep down doesn't feel right with him and it feels like he can snap at any moment but still you are drawn to him,and want to know what is going on in his mind.
Gore:There is some nice gore in this and it looks realistic as well. Axe's get buried into people's head and chests and don't look chessy or fake at all. We also see a body torn-apart and mangled from the waist down. There is also quite a disturbing and maybe the most memorable scene involving rotting meat.
Closing:Barker and Diblasi have crafted a well made horror movie with psychological overtures.It is written well and paced just right.The examinations of the characters fears seem real and leave the viewer empathetic towards each of them,and for once there really is no clear cut "hero" or villain.This is by far one of the better and if not best film I have seen from the AfterDark Horrorfest after 4 yrs.Any Barker fan will enjoy this one,it definitely has his touch on this.