Dreamcatcher (2003 film)

Dreamcatcher is a 2003 American science fiction horror film based on Stephen King's 2001 novel of the same name. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan and co-written by Kasdan and screenwriter William Goldman, the film stars Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis and Timothy Olyphant as four friends who encounter an invasion of parasitic aliens. It also starred Morgan Freeman, Tom Sizemore and Donnie Wahlberg.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byLawrence Kasdan
Screenplay by
Based onDreamcatcher
by Stephen King
Produced by
CinematographyJohn Seale
Edited byCarol Littleton
Music byJames Newton Howard
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • March 21, 2003 (2003-03-21)
Running time
134 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$68 million[2]
Box office$75.7 million[3]

Dreamcatcher was released on March 21, 2003. The film received negative reviews and was a box office bomb, grossing $75.7 million against a $68 million budget.[2]


Jonesy, Beaver, Pete, and Henry are four friends on an annual hunting trip in Maine. As children, they all acquired telepathic powers which they call "the line" after saving a boy with disabilities named Douglas "Duddits" Cavell from bullies and befriending him.

One night, Jonesy sees Duddits beckoning him to cross the street, but as he does so, Jonesy is hit by a car. His injuries heal with mysterious speed, and six months later, he is able to make it for the group's annual trip. Jonesy rescues a man lost in the forest named Rick McCarthy. He is very ill, so Jonesy and Beaver let him rest and recover inside their cabin. Suddenly, all the forest animals run past their cabin in the same direction; it is implied fear is the motivation as predator and prey flee together, followed by two military helicopters that announce the area is now quarantined. Jonesy and Beaver return to the cabin to find a trail of blood from the bedroom to the bathroom, where Rick is sitting semi-catatonic on the toilet, which is now covered in blood. Rick is pushed off the toilet, falling, dead, into the tub as a three-foot long lamprey like creature writhes and screams in the toilet. Beaver attempts to trap the creature under the toilet lid, but he succumbs to his OCD to pick up a toothpick, allowing the creature to break out and kill him. Jonesy tries to escape but is confronted by a large alien called Mr. Gray, who possesses Jonesy's body and emits a red-dust around the entire cabin.

Nearby, Henry and Pete crash their SUV to avoid running over a frostbitten woman from Rick's original hunting party. Henry walks for help while Pete stays with the woman. She dies and also excretes a worm, which Pete barely manages to kill. Mr. Gray tricks and kidnaps Pete, but Jonesy telepathically warns Henry to stay hidden. Henry returns to the cabin to find Beaver dead and the worm that killed him laying a group of eggs. To kill all of the alien larvae, he sets fire to the cabin.

Meanwhile, an elite military unit specializing in extraterrestrials, led by the slightly unhinged Colonel Abraham Curtis, seeks to contain everyone exposed to the aliens. Col. Curtis is planning to retire after this operation and will pass command, along with a pearl-handled stainless-steel .45 pistol, to Captain Owen Underhill, his trusted friend and second-in-command. The two lead an air-strike into a large forest clearing where the aliens' spaceship has crash-landed. The aliens use telepathy to ask for mercy, but the helicopters massacre most of the aliens with mini-guns and missiles. The alien ship self-destructs, destroying the remaining aliens and two helicopters.

Jonesy retraces his memories of the area while watching Mr. Gray use his body. Mr. Gray tries to coerce Pete into cooperating but bites him in half when he refuses. Jonesy realizes that Mr. Gray possessed him, not by chance, but to access past memories of Duddits which he needs. Henry arrives at the fenced-in concentration camp only to realize that Col. Curtis plans to kill all of those quarantined. Henry convinces Underhill to prevent this by going over Curtis' head and having him relieved. Later, Henry uses Underhill's gun as a phone to contact Jonesy mentally.

Henry and Underhill break out of the camp and head to Duddits' home. Duddits, who is dying of leukemia, informs them Mr. Gray is headed for the Quabbin Reservoir to seed the water with alien larvae. Curtis, realizing the danger looming to the entire planet, leaves the camp in his armed helicopter and tracks down Henry, Underhill, and Duddits via a micro-chip in the pistol. At the reservoir, Underhill is mortally wounded and dies shortly after he shoots Curtis down.

In the reservoir's pump house, Henry uses Underhill's machine gun to kill Mr. Gray's worm but cannot decide if Jonesy is possessed. Duddits confronts Mr. Gray, who finally exits Jonesy's body. The two struggle as Duddits reveals himself to also be an alien of a different race. Both aliens explode in a cloud of red-dust which briefly resembles a dreamcatcher. Jonesy, now himself again, steps on the final alien larva before it can escape and contaminate the reservoir.



Dreamcatcher was filmed around Prince George, British Columbia for seven weeks, starting in January 2002. Further shooting was done in Vancouver for ten weeks.[4][5]


Box officeEdit

With a box-office gross of $33,685,268 in the North American domestic market, Dreamcatcher earned only half of its estimated $68 million production budget, barely surpassing it worldwide with $75,715,436. The film is considered a flop.[6]

In a 2012 interview, during a promotional tour for his film Darling Companion, Kasdan admitted that the commercial failure of Dreamcatcher left him "Wounded careerwise...But not so much personally. I've been personally wounded by other movies, where I'd written it, and thought, 'Oh, God, the world's not interested in what I'm interested in.' With Dreamcatcher, the career was hurt. I was planning to do The Risk Pool with Tom Hanks. I had written the script from a great book by Richard Russo (Nobody's Fool). And it didn't happen. Then another one didn't happen. Meanwhile, two years have passed here, two have passed there. That's how you're wounded."[7]

Critical receptionEdit

Dreamcatcher received negative reviews from critics, earning a 28% rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes based on 183 reviews, and an average rating of 4.73/10. The site's consensus states: "An incoherent and overly long creature feature."[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

Mick LaSalle's review for the San Francisco Chronicle summed up the film as "a likeable disaster."[10] Richard Roeper commented that "not since Death to Smoochy have so many talented people made such a mess of things."[11]

Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 stars out of a possible 4, writing: '"Dreamcatcher" begins as the intriguing story of friends who share a telepathic gift, and ends as a monster movie of stunning awfulness. What went wrong?" Ebert thought Jonesy's Memory Warehouse was a highlight, and intriguing enough to be the focus of a film, though Dreamcatcher neglects the concept to instead emphasize gore.[12]


  1. ^ "DREAMCATCHER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 24 March 2003. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Dreamcatcher (2003) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Dreamcatcher at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Northern BC Film". filmnorthernbc.com. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  5. ^ https://filmthreat.com/uncategorized/dreamcatcher-catching-stephen-king/
  6. ^ "Dreamcatcher (2003)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  7. ^ LA Weekly Archived 10 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Dreamcatcher". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 20 December 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  10. ^ LaSalle, Mick (24 June 2011). "Touched by an alien / 'Dreamcatcher' wrestles with emotions, monsters". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  11. ^ Roeper, Richard. "Dreamcatcher(2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Dreamcatcher Movie Review & Film Summary (2003) - Roger Ebert". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 17 March 2017.

External linksEdit