Clive Barker is one of those authors that just has trouble being transferred to film correctly. It's only happened a handful of times, but this happens to be one of them. Stylistically savvy and chock full of intense atmosphere, its films like "Dread" that should be highlighted in the After Dark Horrorfest catalog and not some of the other crap that comes through (cough, "The Graves", cough).
A film student, Stephen, partners up with his new and crazy friend Quaid to throw together a fear study for his film class. With the help of his pseudo girlfriend as an editor, they use Quaid's idea that one can overcome fear and dread by studying it, as a thesis for their film. Unfortunately, Quaid becomes so obsessed with the idea that he begins to take the study to frightening and gruesome levels.
Based on a short story by the brilliant Clive Barker, "Dread" encapsulates both the great of new and old school Horror. Using more modern stylistic techniques of visual style spiced with the idea of humanistic torture horror and mixing it with a solid dose of old school character development and atmosphere, "Dread" comes off as both completely competent and fresh compared to most modern Horror films. The entire first two acts of the film is built on these characters shoulders (ably carried by a remarkably stellar cast) as the audience dreads where all this is bound to lead. The suspense is thick enough to see your breath in and the brief flashes of intense style, mostly within the nightmare sequences of Quaid like the odd and disturbing strip club scene, counteract the old school tension approach beautifully.
Sometimes the drab color scheme was a bit overwhelming for its style, but besides that "Dread" is a remarkable little film that does the short story justice in more ways than one. Considering its one claim to fame mainstream wise was Jackson Rathbone (known for his small role as one of the vampire family members in "Twilight"), I was surprised at how little mainstream calling this one got. Perhaps its for the better as its one of the few gems I've had the chance of finding this year for Horror.
"Dread" was an atmospheric fear ride through human horror (no fantasy elements here) that gives the genre another modern classic. A must see for fans of independent films and Horror films alike.
Written By Matt Reifschneider