2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Dread (2009)

Even the poster is creepy

Here is the second pre-release review for the upcoming After Dark Horrorfest 4 (as of this writing the movies are being released at the end of March 2010).  I haven’t been subtle in what I think about most Horrorfest flicks.  In my review of the only one I’ve so far liked, Mulberry Street, I mentioned that I will keep watching them with the hopes of finding another gem.  Well I’ve found another gem and its one strong-ass fucking movie!!

Dread is the third flick in what is being called “The Books of Blood movie franchise.”  The Books of Blood are, of course, six volumes of short horror stories written by Clive Barker which were published between 1984 to 1985.  These were an overnight success that launched Barker’s career.  Several of these stories have already been made into films:  Rawhead Rex (1986), The Forbidden (1992 as Candyman), The Last Illusion (1995 as Lord of Illusions), The Body Politic (1997 as Quicksilver Highway), The Midnight Meat Train (2008), and The Book of Blood and On Jerusalem Street were combined to make the film Book of Blood (2008).  Most were pretty decent films, but the ones that were bad were very bad (looking at you Book of Blood).

Jackson Rathbone shakes off the stench of the Twilight flix here

So when I heard Dread was being made and it was gonna be part of the After Dark Horrorfest my hopes sank like a stone.  Boy was I wrong.  This is a brilliantly directed, well-acted, atmospheric story that will grab your interest in the first few seconds and not let you go.  At the end of the day this is the story about a man fighting his personal demons and who lets those demons overcome him.  College students Stephen, the film major, and Quaid, an art major, (played by Jackson Rathbone and Shaun Evans respectively) team up to work on their senior projects.  Their topic is dread and they want to explore what people really fear the most (or as they call it, “Touching the beast”).  Stephen hasn’t driven a car for years ever since his brother was killed in a drunk driving accident and Quaid is constantly battling his memories of watching his parents killed by an axe murdered when he was six years old.  The thesis is Quaid’s idea and he’s immediately obsessed with the topic.  Little by little his obsession overtakes him until ultimately he crosses the line.

Now THAT’S a birthmark!!

This is one fantastic movie people.  Director Anthony DiBlasi (who also wrote the screenplay) really takes his time developing these characters and plot.  For the first half of the movie I had no idea where this film was going but knew it was creeping its way into some dark territory (that is so refreshing; I can usually tell exactly where a movie is going within the first ten minutes of watching it).  When Quaid, who is haunted with nightmarish visions of his parent’s murders, dumps his meds down the drain, you know things aren’t gonna turn out well for anyone involved.  Rounding out the cast is Hanne Steen as Abby, who has a hideous birthmark on the right side of her body from her face down to her toes, and Laura Donnelly as Cheryl, who is helping edit the project and had her own “dreadful” story to tell.  Every character here is flawed and battles their own personal demons and DiBlasi does a phenomenal job of developing them so we really care about their fates.  DiBlasi also does something unique here:  He actually makes “dread” a character.  I’m not talking about a physical character; it’s more like a presence throughout the film.  “Dread” becomes like a ghost who you know is lurking around each corner and is inside the head of each character.

It’s safe to say we’d all “dread” a sight like this

DiBlasi’s camera work and angles reminded me of a young Dario Argento who experimented a lot with the camera as he was trying to find his style.  There are a few scenes that are both horrific and beautiful.  Dread also has a very cool washed out look to it that adds to the atmosphere.  And considering this is DiBlasi’s first time directing he is definitely someone you wanna keep your eye on!!  But as good as DiBlasi is behind the camera (DiBlasi also served as producer on 2008’s The Midnight Meat Train and Book of Blood) if he didn’t get strong performances out of his actors then all would’ve been lost.  We get some truly solid chops out of our four main characters.  There wasn’t a hint of overacting or pandering to the camera.  Are you SURE this is an After Dark Horrorfest entry??

Cheryl is having a very bad week!!

As the film progresses, Quaid keeps pushing his thesis further and further.  He starts off with examining and exposing what people truly fear and then crosses the line to actually exploiting those fears.  There is some well-done gore here that aids and helps to solidify the story.  There’s a few cringe-inducing moments and even a scene that reminded me of my favorite movie of the previous decade, Martyrs (you’ll know it when you see it).  Now that says something.  But all the gore here is what I call “situational”.  We don’t get gore simply for gore’s sake (and by now you know I don’t have a problem with that either); the gore is intricately connected to the situations the characters find themselves in.  This makes the gore contribute to the horror and is very effective.

Heeeeere’s Quaid

Whenever I see a Horrorfest flick that I like and think is a strong film I need to step back and ask myself, “Did I think it was a strong movie compared to the other crappy Horrorfest flicks, or is it a solid movie by any standards?”  As far as Dread is concerned this is a strong, solid movie in its own right; Horrorfest or not.  Definitely don’t miss this one!!

*** As of the writing of this review Anthony DiBlasi is listed as the director of the upcoming Hellraiser remake.  I’m not crazy about that classic being remade, but after watching what he did in Dread I believe he’s a great choice and will be someone who can capture the tone and atmosphere of Hellraiser perfectly.  We’ll see.

My Summary:

Director:  Anthony DiBlasi (and screenwriter)

Plot:  4 out of 5 stars

Gore:  5.5 out of 10 skulls (not a lot, but what there was was very effective)

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

23 Responses to “2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Dread (2009)”
  1. Ifaz says:

    Awesome. I was looking forward to this. Also, check out The Final. I saw it, was great.


    • Awesome. Looking forward to The Final. Dread was simply an amazing movie. Great story & performances!!! I consider this a “slow burn” flick & not a balls-to-the-wall horror epic. It has great atmosphere and a chilling ending!! Let me know what you think of it.


  2. Ifaz says:

    Btw, please check your spam comments, I believe some of mine went directly there because wordpress was being a bitch.


  3. nosfera2 says:

    Sweet! I will want to see this. I love Barker’s “Books of Blood” and now will have to reread them and then watch this film too. Turning into a good horror month!


    • Yeah Bill; you’re gonna love Dread. Strong all around.

      I must say I was very disappointed with Book of Blood. I was bored the entire time and it never felt more than a TV movie of the week. I was really looking forward to that 1 too!!!


  4. Demian says:

    Cool I will definitely check this out! I saw ZMD (zombies of mass destruction) from this years horror fest! It was ok, had promise but didn’t pan out entirely, still watchable, good gore though.


    • Ifaz says:

      ZMD was fun except for the annoying bits. That lady eating her own eye was gross!

      Best line:
      “Dont shoot. Im Gay!
      “And Im Frida, let’s go.”


      • I’ve heard that ZMD is the best of the new batch of the 2010 After Dark Horrorfest but I’ll be really surprised if its better than Dread!! Although I’m sure it’ll have way more blood and gore in it.


    • Good to know about ZMD … looking forward to that one. So far I’ve seen 4 of the new 8. Dread, The Graves, Kill Theory, and Lake Mungo. Only Dread is worth seeing so far. Typical batch of flicks from the good folks over at After Dark Horrorfest. 🙂


  5. I came across this contest and thought I’d share 🙂

    Dread Contest: Have your portrait painted by “Quaid”


    • I saw that contest on line!! Have you seen the movie yet? Having your portrait painted by the artist who did Quaid’s work in the flick would be awesome!! It was some dark and disturbing paintings (I actually thought Clive Barker may have done them).


      • Unfortunately not. I’m not working, so I have to be money conscious. :/


      • I hear ya Candace … not working as of 3 weeks ago. Place I was at went tits up. This economy sucks!!! What kinda work are you looking to get into?


      • Well, beyond getting published? lol

        I’m looking for office work or something to do from home. But seriously, if I could get published, I’d settle for that. My needs are modest. 😉 All I want is to write, and having worked in retail for more years than I care to count, I have a lot of aggressions to work through. And, well, I’m agoraphobic and the stress of retail was literally killing me. I’m actually considering trying to get SSI (social security disability) because I can’t bear going out among people any more. At this point, I can barely manage driving anywhere once a week. I’m going to be a regular Salinger when I finally get published. People will have to write me for an autograph. :/


      • Well I’m sorry to head about all that … but it works for Salinger!! 🙂 I hear ya about getting published. If I could make my living that way I’d be a happy man as well. But it looks like I’m gonna have to get my ass back in the kitchen pretty soon. Aahhh yes; the life of a chef. Over worked and under paid.


      • Well, all I can say is that at least as a chef you regularly create a form of art that the majority of people appreciate (otherwise you wouldn’t be a chef for long!) So, that’s a good thing, right? Even if you’d rather be doing something else.

        I imagined I’d like to be a chef when I was a little girl, but my dad said all the best professional chefs were men. So… kind of grew out of it.


      • I label myself as a chef by trade & a writer at heart. I feel so much more fulfilled whether its writing reviews or some original works. Oh well; if only I had the foresight when I was younger!!


      • Trust me. All the foresight in the world won’t help you if no one ever gives you the opportunity or encouragement you need as a child to succeed at a pursuit like writing. It’s not exactly work that will bring you mountains of cash or untold fame; unless you’re exceedingly lucky. People who write have to be willing to reevaluate their priorities and ambitions to something a bit more modest. At least chefs have a whole tv channel devoted to them, so as a chef you’re marginally more likely to find fame than as a writer. Hmmm, a year round (not just at Halloween) horror-based cooking show. You’d be up there with Good Eats and Ace of Cakes in my book! 😉


      • i like the horror-based cooking show idea!! And you’re absolutely right. My folks wouldn’t have been keen if told them I wanted to be a writer. Like you said, here’s no mountains of cash coming in from that!! I also minored in filmmaking when in undergrad (my parents knew I was taking a few courses in it but didn’t know it was my minor). I really loved it and should have made it my major and then gone on to a bigger/better school for it. Oh well. Que sera sera!!


  6. Ifaz says:

    This movie is almost better than Midnight Meat Train! Which is saying A LOT ’cause I really loved that one. Now, I liked the slow pace, it helped to build up the tension. And o man, 2 of the scenes were so disturbing, the literal bloodbath and the beef eating ones. I have a very strong stomach(every horror fan does), but I was like really …cringed.

    And would Clive Barker’s adaptations ever have a happy goddamn ending? The narration near the end of the movie was great. Or maybe the whole last scene.


    • Great comments on Dread!! You listed the main reasons that was such a badass flick!! I also loved Midnight Meat Train but Dread is a completely different approach. Meat Train goes for the throat while Dread is a slow burn that takes its time building the tension and overall gloomy atmosphere. Both are great in their own right!!

      The meat scenes were fucking horrifying!! I actually got a “Martyr’s vibe” from those meat scenes. Actress Hanne Steen did a phenomenal job in those scenes. And the ending is really chilling … I just sat there and stared at the screen as the end credits rolled. Good shit!!


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