Dreamcatcher (USA, 2021)

The entertainment industry’s bad side gets slasher-fied in this thriller from writer-director Jacob Johnston.

Pierce and Ivy are estranged sisters who have reunited after three years apart. Pierce’s best friend Jake has had a crush on Pierce forever, but she never felt anything more than a friend. In addition, she has learned her ex-boyfriend Hunter is constantly stalking her and yet, he has a new girlfriend, law student Raye. When Ivy invites Pierce and Jake to a major music event called Cataclysm, where the headliner is Dylan, aka DJ Dreamcatcher, things start to go insane when Pierce accidentally dies of a drug overdose after meeting Dylan backstage.

Josephine, Dylan’s agent, offers Jake, Ivy, and Ivy’s boyfriend Brecken $50,000 each to cover up Pierce’s death so Dylan won’t be involved in a scandal. However, the truth is Josephine thinks Dylan is old news and plans to get rid of him. But that’s not the worst thing. A mysterious masked killer has arrived and is beginning to unleash his fury on the group. Who will survive and even more, who is the mysterious killer and why is he targeting this group?

At first glance, this may seem like a routine slasher film set in the world of DJs and electronic music. However, it is much more than this. It is a sordid look at the dark side of the entertainment industry. We all know the media stories of scandals and bad sides of celebrities. Writer-director Jacob Johnston did a great job with bringing this element and meshing it with the slasher horror genre without it getting too gory.

The cast is quite interesting here, led by Niki Koss’s Pierce and Elizabeth Posey’s Ivy, two estranged sisters. The former is a free spirit while the latter is a recovering addict on a path of redemption. Zachary Gordon’s Jake is the nerdy friend who crushes on Pierce, who’d rather rebuff his advances and keep her ways set. Meanwhile, we meet Ivy’s boyfriend Brecken, played by Emrhys Cooper, who is similar to Ivy in more ways than one. This is the core group whose tables are turned upon meeting the titular “Dreamcatcher”, popular DJ Dylan, played by Travis Burns, who claims to have made a deal with the devil to gain his fame.

That could either mean a literal thing or even it can be said to be that of his agent Josephine, played with a femme fatale vibe by Adrienne Wilkinson. When she arrives on the scene, she causes scandal from the very beginning and is just proof that all agents cannot be trusted. She only cares about her career and doesn’t care who goes under the bus. Despite his limited screen time, Lou Ferrigno Jr. makes the most of his role of fellow agent Colton.

The kill scenes are quite well done. The mysterious killer, played by Ryan Powers, uses anything to his advantage to off those involved in the story. Some kills are done off screen, but the use of practical effects without having to amp up on the gore factor. One character had their original death scene changed with full permission from Johnston, due to impracticality and after seeing the film, it is seen why this was the right decision to be made. The finale itself is jaw-dropping and must be seen.

Dreamcatcher is more than a run-of-the-mill slasher, but a look at the dark side of the entertainment industry, notably the music industry. The killer brings a sense of mystery and the finale is quite jaw-dropping.

WFG RATING: B

Samuel Goldwyn Films presents a Quarzo Studios production. Director: Jacob Johnston. Producers: Brandon Michael Vayda and Krystal Vayda. Writer: Jacob Johnston. Cinematography: Matthew Plaxco. Editing: Cody Miller.

Cast: Niki Koss, Zachary Gordon, Elizabeth Posey, Emrhys Cooper, Travis Burns, Blaine Kern III, Olivia Sui, Adrienne Wilkinson, Lou Ferrigno Jr., Nazanin Mandi, Ryan Powers, Al Calderon, Ben J. Pierce.

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