When I was in Junior High, back in the mid-60s, I was really into Stephen King. One year, our teacher asked us to pick a book, read it, and write a one page report. When I handed in my report on It, she called me over to her desk and told me that plagiarizing was wrong, and that I shouldn’t ever do it. To be fair, I hadn’t plagiarized anything, but I had tried to sound professional and wrote things like “the children descend into a spiral of madness,” and “the demonic clown is actually a metaphor for the loss of innocence,” or some garbage. The point of this story is not to show off how good I have always been at writing one page synopses of books you buy at the airport, although I was basically a prodigy in that, but to remind everyone that before we even begin talking about Dreamcatcher, Stephen King is for pre-pubescent children. So if you’re a pre-pubescent child, and Videogum readers often are, you can stop reading this post right now and go rent Dreamcatcher. It’s going to be your favorite movie.
OK. Adults? Holy shit, this movie is nuts. Let’s go y’all!
Dreamcatcher is about four lifelong friends who take an annual vacation to a secluded cabin in the woods of Maine. Also, they’re all psychic. OK, sure. One day, a lost hunter wanders in from the woods after a night in the cold and has diarrhea so they put him to bed, but it turns out that the diarrhea is actually AN ALIEN THAT SQUIRTS OUT OF HIS BUTT. That alien kills Jason Lee, and then another alien possesses Damien Lewis and makes him steal a snowmobile. Meanwhile the two other friends, Timothy Olyphant and Thomas Jane have had a car accident in the woods where they find another lady with a diarrhea alien. Then possessed Damien Lewis turns back into the alien and eats Timothy Olyphant on a snowmobile. Are you with me? Keep up. MEANWHILE, Morgan Freeman is in charge of a covert special ops army force that only fights aliens, naturally, and he wants to quarantine the whole area and kill everyone because he has gone crazy, which we know because later someone says “he has gone crazy.” So, possessed alien-Damien Lewis is trying to get to Massachusetts to introduce an alien worm into the water supply because that will destroy the whole world, but Thomas Jane IS PSYCHICALLY LINKED to Damien Lewis, alien possession or no alien possession, because of their FRIENDSHIP, and also because of their childhood friendship with someone named Duddits, who is the one that gave them their special psychic powers in the first place, and also I guess was responsible for Damien Lewis getting hit by a car at the beginning of the movie which turns into a plotpoint later because everything in this movie happens for a stupid reason*, and anyway, Thomas Jane convinces noted highlighter thief Tom Sizemore to break with his commanding officer (crazed Morgan Freeman, crazed for every agreeing to do this! Zingcatcher) and take him to get Duddits (who is supposed to be retarded and have leukemia, and so is expertly portrayed by DONNIE WAHLBERG), and they have a confrontation with possessed-alien-slash-Damien Lewis at the water supply and it turns out that Duddits was actually a good alien all along, in a human boy body, doling out superpowers, and setting up all the dominoes to help stop this bad alien from getting his butt worm into the Boston water supply for almost 40 years. WHAT?
Obviously, this movie is terrible. But it is also completely amazing. In all honesty, I don’t think that I have been as enthralled with something in a very long time. You could teach an entire semester on this movie at the University of WTF. Instant tenure.
If anything, Dreamcatcher’s major flaw is its attempt to hold on to some semblance of reality. Take, for example, this flashback scene, in which the young versions of our four heroes meet Duddits for the first time:
Um, no one’s childhood was like that, ever. It’s all very Stand By Me, if Stand By Me was written by a home educated student majoring in Whoops who was asked to write his own version of SBM after only being allowed to read an Eastern European’s IMDB message board posts about it. But if you can’t even get the regular, familiar stuff right, how are we supposed to believe you when you get into the crazy stuff? And this movie gets way into the crazy stuff. Like, put this movie in Gothika, you guys. (Gothika reference. 2009. ROT.)
Also, did you notice that completely unnecessary shot of baby Duddtis’s butt as he stood up? This whole movie is obsessed with butts and farting and diarrhea. Let’s go to the tape!
OH NO, NOT THE TOOTHPICKS!
Again, I’m even willing to accept all of the butt-worm aliens, and Morgan Freeman’s elite fighting force of anti-alien soldiers, and four dudes being psychically linked, but I am not willing to accept that someone’s nervous tick is so strong that they end up letting a toilet alien escape and kill them because they’re desperately reaching for the one toothpick that didn’t fall into a dead man’s alien-ass-blood. Which is what happens right after that clip stops.
And just in general, the acting. Look out, there is something behind you.
And then just keep looking out forever. Hold it.
The pleasure of this movie, on the other hand, is that you almost never know where it is going. Like, when the alien takes possession of Damien Lewis’s body, I didn’t even begin to suspect that he would speak with a jaunty British accent and refer to himself as Mr. Gray.
Right. You know, alien stuff. Did I mention that Tom Sizemore has a shootout with Morgan Freeman in a helicopter?
Whatever. Nothing this movie could do could even phase me anymore. Oh, wait, no, that’s not true, it could do this:
Um, THAT DUDE JUST USED A GUN AS A PSYCHIC TELEPHONE.
By the time they get to Donnie Wahlberg as the mentally retarded Boston Red Sox fan who is secretly an alien mastermind shapeshifter, it’s just like, no, totally, I am on board.
Of course. Totally. BRAVA.
By now I am so turned around, I actually think this might be the Best Movie of All Time. Is it? No, it is not. But it is highly recommended. You will shit your pants. (Thematic!)
Easter Egg for the Superfans, Bonus GIF Edition:
*It would be the poor man’s Signs if Signs wasn’t already the poor man’s Signs.