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The outcast cinema student, Stephen Grace, does not drive cars due to the trauma of losing his brother in a car accident. He befriends, Quaid, who since the age of 6 has experienced dreadful nightmares and daydreams about the death of his parents. Quaid proposes they research about each one's innermost fear. Stephen sees the chance of developing an original thesis for college and invites his friend, Cheryl, to work with them. Among the interviewees, Stephen talks to his colleague, Abby who works with him in the library. Abby has a complex about the way she looks. When the work is almost complete, Quaid has an outburst at one interviewee's and ends up destroying the camera and editing equipment. Stephen begins to re-evaluate the situation. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A chance meeting between smart, sensitive Stephen Grace (Jackson Rathbone) and charming, mysterious Quaid (Shaun Evans) results in a college project to study the intimate fears which people have. With the help of fellow student Abby (Hanne Steen), the advert is placed and the camera begins to roll on a series of interviews as the trio start to document their findings. However, each of the three has their own fears to deal with, not least of all Quaid whose childhood is stained by a terrible trauma...
Having never read the original short story by Clive Barker ("Hellraiser", "Lord Of Illusions") that "Dread" is based upon, i wasn't certain what to expect from this movie. Last year we were given the impressive (and criminally overlooked) "Midnight Meat Train" also based upon a Clive Barker story, and "Dread" continues the trend of incredible horror movies adapted from his work.
"Dread" takes its time setting up its premise but i hesitate to call it slow-moving. Every scene is important to the story, and the chemistry between the three leads ensures that you keep watching. There is a real tension in "Dread" as Quaid's behaviour becomes more erratic whilst his obsession with the project starts to grow to dangerous levels. By the point at which the taped confessions are no longer enough for him, the audience has spent enough time with the characters to feel uncomfortable at what might occur next. It's rare to find a horror movie where you feel genuinely sorry for the victims.
It's also good to see a movie about students which appears to be set in the real world rather than a stylised Hollywood version of it; these are multi-dimensional young adults rather than catalogue models reciting hip dialogue to one another. The cast is excellent without a bad performance to be found. Evans impresses as a character who is capable of moving from charming to dangerous without blinking, but the stand-out would have to be Laura Donelly who plays a girl with a gigantic birthmark covering one side of her body. Although initially brimming with confidence, her heartbreaking vulnerability gradually rises to the surface and you can't help but emphasise with her. Jonathon Readwin is also fantastic in a smaller role as one of the trio's interviewees.
Don't be fooled into thinking that "Dread" will be your average teen-stalker horror movie. Sure, there is blood and death but this a more cerebral effort than usual; a bone-chilling descent into madness and obsession with a careful and deliberate pace. There are no sudden scares to be found here; only a creeping sense of foreboding and a third act that will stay with you long after the credits have finished rolling. Make no mistake; the final scenes in this movie are ruthless and nasty, but they are also very well-written.
"Dread" is a solid effort. If you are a serious horror fan, this is certainly worth your time.
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