Dread Movie Review
Written by Robert Gold
Directed by William Victor Schotten
Written by Laura Seli
2008, Region 0 (NTSC), 102 minutes, Not rated
Rick Reed as Russ
Jason Catlett as Murphy
Bill Hinzman as Priest
Ashley Gallo as Nun
Cheyenne Stewart as Renee
Dread is a mess of a film that is actually two meandering stories in one. Both tales are disappointing, but for different reasons. The main plot follows Russ (Rick Reed) an amazingly unlikable character who along with his loser friend Murphy (Jason Catlett), pass the time making everyone else miserable.
The secondary plot is more interesting, but receives less screen time. A priest (Bill Hinzman) and a nun (Ashley Gallo) confront a pair of green-faced "Dread." These titular demons are not particularly scary, nor menacing, as they spend the majority of their time shuffling around in black robes, slowly making their way to a bowling alley and occasionally killing people in their path. This storyline is saddled with an abundance of day-for-night filtering that makes the action too dark to follow.
Luckily our anti-hero Russ fills the time of the main plot by wandering around harassing people until just about everyone around him has been killed or has mysteriously vanished, until the plot deems their return necessary. Russ ultimately learns at the end of the film that he is being punished for being a douchebag.
The actors make the most of the material with strong performances, but struggle for direction as their repugnant characters are forced to deliver some laughable dialogue. They remain surprisingly calm given some of the scenarios — like when Russ discovers that he has been dragging a body under his car and casually walks past the crowd of onlookers.
Laura Seli's Dread script is not as ambitious as her previous Sabbath, and appears to have been dumbed down before shooting. The supernatural features strongly in both, but is less sincere in this film, although I suspect something has been lost in translation. "The wrongs you do come back to you," warns the tag line, and the director is trapped within his own cycle of making one bad film after another.
Previous titles from Schotten FilmWorks (SFW) have listed craft services and production assistants in the opening credits, simply to pad the time. Twenty minutes could easily have been removed from this film. Instead, Dread simply spaces out the (occasionally hard to read) title cards for a full five minutes before adding more to the bloated running time with concert footage and ATV races (both of which can be thrilling if incorporated wisely, but with quite the opposite effect here).
The final slap in the face is the scapegoat credited with concept, special effects and executive producer as "In Lieu of Flowers Productions." This is a sneaky way to disguise the guilty, so I will simply level all blame with director/editor William Schotten. He is responsible for providing the visual style and pacing of Dread, and fails miserably with both. It is more disappointing in perspective that this is not his first film. He surrounds himself with familiar faces of cast and crew, but nobody seems to learn from one project to the next. Previous films Dead Life and Sabbath are not any better, but one would hope that experience presents a path of growth. Schotten's career path is a muddy dirt road, overgrown and strangled by weeds.
Video, audio and special features will not be graded, as this is a screener.
Douchebags get what they deserve, and demons apparently enjoy bowling. Instead of wasting over 90 minutes of your life with Dread, I recommend the viewer use this time to organize a sock drawer, floss, or make an appointment for some overdue dental work — any of these will be more satisfactory than watching this steamer.
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