As Stephen King progresses in his writing career, he has taken some interesting turns. Movies like The Shawshank Redemption show that King can write about more than horror, and that he can also bring horror to the mundane. In Dreamcatcher, King decides to add his name to the list of military science fiction authors. But the movie doesn't start out that way.
Instead, Dreamcatcher has strong parallels to "Stand By Me" and "It". Four men, each with their own personalities and quirks, become fast friends: Joe "Beaver" Clarenden (Jason Lee), Gary "Jonesy" Jones (Damian Lewis), Dr. Henry Devlin (Thomas Jane), and Pete Moore (Timothy Olyphant). These four are typical screw-ups, all bound by a dark secret. And that secret is that they once saved Donnie Wahlberg--I mean Douglas "Duddits" Cavell--a mentally deficient young man who has alien powers. Somehow, he transfers those powers to our four unlikely heroes.
Years later, these four lovable lugs continue an old tradition: visiting a cabin to go hunting. Along the way they discover other traumatized hunters with a dire need for some toilet paper and a magazine. Just don't interrupt them…
What ensues from that point on is a form of taboo-breaking insanity: aliens in the toilet. These strange eel-like creatures enter your mouth, gestate in your stomach and leave from the other end, killing the host. Then things get really nasty.
Unlike most King stories, where nobody but the protagonists know what's going on, the entire government is at war with these things. Abraham Curtis (Morgan Freeman), a cold-hearted colonel, leads Project Blueboy. He is determined to kill every last alien, including their hosts and the surrounding landscape. Curtis bosses around the more compassionate Lt. Owen Underhill (Tom Sizemore), who just might be our four boys' only chance at survival.
Complicating matters is the fact that Jonesy has been taken over by "Mister Gray," one of the aliens. Unlike the other hosts, Mr. Gray has more advanced plans for poor Jonesy. Thus we witness a battle of the minds, as we see the internal struggle of Jonesy in his room of mental secrets. This struggle is acted out--look ma, no special effects!-through Lewis' acting alone, switching from proper British accent to Terrified Normal Guy. Which is funny, given that Lewis is a Brit, so the "normal" guy is not his usual self.
The puppetry and CGI effects are impressive, but often take away the terror of the final conflict. After all, it's hard to be afraid of what amounts to a giant mouth with legs when you've just seen them running screaming for their lives from 30 Tomahawk missiles. The "weasels" should not be underestimated. You'll never want to use the bathroom again. Or for a little while anyway.
The acting is not as good. Freeman looks like he wishes he were somewhere else. Lee is funny as usual. Lewis gets the acting workout of his life. Sizemore tries, but at one point his gun turns into a telephone, so you can't expect too much. Wahlberg is pretty awful as the "slow" guy, but he's also bald, so that makes it better.
The two styles of films clash pretty strongly: from buddy/horror flick to science fiction war. Though the transition is jarring, sci-fi fans probably won't have nearly as difficult a time making the transition as much as horror fans. And Stephen King fans have undoubtedly flushed their DVDs down the toilet.
New Kids on the Block fans should definitely see it. It's not every day that a bald, muttering Donnie Wahlberg saves the world.