Written by: Matt Molgaard
I know, I know – why in the world would I choose Dreamcatcher and The Faculty as a face off feature? Because they’re two pretty damn entertaining modern invasion films – that’s why! There are so many differentials between these two films it is ridiculous. I understand, and openly confess my knowledge. But in the end, both of these are invasion flicks, and both are truly enjoyable pieces by a pair of talented film makers.
Dreamcatcher centers on a group of five life-long friends, connected by not only kinship, but a series of magical powers unique to each character. At the center of this mystical gift lies Duddits (Andrew Robb as a child, Donnie Wahlberg as an adult) a mentally challenged child befriended by a young group of outcasts consisting of Henry (Mikey Holekamp as a child, Thomas Jane as an adult) Devlin, Beaver (Reece Thompson as a child, Jason Lee as an adult), Jonesy (Giacomo Baessato as a child, Damian Lewis as an adult), and Pete (Joel Palmer as a child, Timothy Olyphant as an adult). The four rescue Duddits from the torturing tactics of a few local bullies, and in tern Duddits bestows a special “gift” to each of his new friends, and issues a warning that will one day determine the worlds fate: “otch out fuh isster gay“.
20 years later, though connected by a telepathic link, each live separate lives. Once a year however, Henry, Pete, Jonesy, and Beaver make an annual hunting trip filled with laughter, beer drinking and plenty of reminiscing. Duddits, suffering from terminal illness is absent from these journeys. On the groups 20th anniversary trip, all seems normal until Rick (Eric Keenleyside) stumbles out of the snow with some disturbing physical symptoms. It isn’t long before Rick’s health takes a drastic turn for the worst, and Jonesy and Beaver find themselves in the center of bloody, fatal encounter. Henry and Pete meanwhile make a journey into town, where they too stumble across a strange anomaly. In a matter of hours the group discover that aliens are more than just mythical characters, and that warning Duddits issued so long ago may hold more meaning than they ever suspected.
Dreamcatcher isn’t a dead-on replication of its source material, but it’s true enough to King’s original novel to keep the literary fans interested, and it’s a stimulating enough picture to keep those foreign to the novel intrigued. The cast is excellent, as both Thomas Jane and Timothy Olyphant turn in (arguably) their best performances to date. The atmosphere is wonderfully bright, yet the film is bloody, and dark enough to make this one perfect for a Halloween or a Christmas viewing. Take all those factors, introduce a stellar performance from Morgan Freeman, an excellent editing job courtesy of Lucyna Wojciechowski and crew, and you’ve got yourself a solid horror flick with surprising replay value.
Fear Factor: 6.5
Makeup/Mechanical Effects: 7
Replay Value: 8
Total Score: 37
When strange things start happening at Herrington High, a few attentive students take notice, while the vast majority of the schools oblivious population stumble blindly toward a cruel, inhuman fate. It takes the geek Casey (Elijah Wood), the outcast Stokely (Clea Duvall), a rebellious dope dealer named Zeke (Josh Hartnett), the cool chick Delilah (Jordana Brewster), tuff-guy jock Stan (Shawn Hatosy) and the new girl Marybeth (Laura Harris) to assemble the puzzle pieces before the house of cards crumbles. Unfortunately this group has begun to deteriorate from the inside out, no one is to trust, and not many will emerge alive.
While The Faculty is definitely aimed at the teenie boppers, there’s a simplistic visual approach akin to the cinematography of classic 50’s horror that is extremely enjoyable. Kevin Williamson, still riding the high of the Scream and I Know films turns in an entertaining, and fast paced script which a group of young talented actors handle with a veterans comfort. Josh Hartnett, Shawn Hatosy and Jordana Brewster all turn in embraceable performances, but long time veteran Elijah Wood captures the crowd as the clumsy dork (obviously) destined to get the girl, and ultimately save the day. Often overshadowed by the success of such films as Once Upon a Time in Mexico, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Sin City, The Faculty is a respectable, and enjoyable piece worthy of the ranks of the aforementioned films. Seek it out, it’s goofy – but it’s good fun.
Fear Factor: 6.5
Makeup/Mechanical Effects: 7
Replay Value: 7.7
Total Score: 35.9
The Faculty lacks the luxury of the extra back stories, and side plots that help elevate the narrative of Dreamcatcher. There’s no history, and no future to deal with, only the present, and that’s one of the largest factors between these two pictures. The depth of Dreamcatcher is significantly more prominent, and thus creates a slightly more complex and involving piece to deal with. Interestingly enough there’s plenty of evident homages throughout both pictures, and the plot is virtually identical – it’s just that sometimes, that little extra attention to detail really pays off. So the score – believe it or not – is Dreamcatcher: 37, The Faculty: 35.9.