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Dread

Thriller finds misfits under the sway of a peer who ropes them into studying secret fears.

With:
With: Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Evans, Hanne Steen, Laura Donnelly, Jonathan Readwin,

Derived from a Clive Barker short story, the non-supernatural horror-thriller “Dread” finds some college misfits under the sway of a charismatic peer who ropes them into studying people’s secret fears. Slow-building thriller intrigues, even if it doesn’t entirely satisfy, and will be one of the more eagerly sought-after titles in the new After Dark Horrorfest eight-pack after hitting DVD next month.

Stephen (“Twilight’s” Jackson Rathbone) is a student loner whose only pal is extensively birthmark-disfigured Abby (Laura Donnelly). He’s dazzled by friendly overtures from Quaid (Shaun Evans), a brash hedonist who proposes they collaborate, along with third “researcher” Cheryl (Hanne Steen), on a thesis project: interviewing subjects a la Kinsey, though not about sexuality but about innermost dread. The volatile, possibly disturbed Quaid — plagued by visions from a horrific childhood trauma — keeps pushing their “experiment to the next level,” to everyone else’s severe eventual misfortune. Confident writing/directing debut for prior Barker associate Anthony DiBlasi ends on a cruelly nasty note, yet the story feels overstretched, largely because once we grasp Quaid’s danger early on, his character ceases to surprise. However, pro assembly and perfs maintain interest.

Dread

U.K.

Production: An After Dark Films release of an Essential Entertainment presentation of a Matador Pictures production with Cinema Three in association with Regent Capital, Newbridge Film Capital, E-Motion, Motion Investment Group and Pepper Post. Produced by Clive Barker, Jorge Saralegui, Joe Daley, Nigel Thomas, Charlotte Walls and Lauri Apelian. Executive producers, Karl Richards, Peter Bevan, Jeremy Burdek, Anthony DiBlasi, Nadia Khamlichi, Adrian Politowski, Richard Reiner, Micky MacPherson. Directed by Anthony DiBlasi. Screenplay, DiBlasi, based on the short story by Clive Barker.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Sam McCurdy; editor, Celia Haining; music, Theo Green; production designer, Chris Lowe. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Feb. 5, 2010. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Evans, Hanne Steen, Laura Donnelly, Jonathan Readwin,

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