There seems to be no shortage of horror films set in the world of EBM and/or rave culture despite the fact that few of them seem to really catch on, and even fewer are actually good. It seems for every Ravers there’s a Rave Party Massacre and a Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave. Writer/director Jacob Johnston thinks his feature debut, Dreamcatcher, will be the film to change that. According to his director’s statement:
The inception of Dreamcatcher began with a love of classic literature, 90’s ensemble horror, and a late-night walk to my neighborhood Trader Joe’s.
Having known [producers] Brandon and Krystal Vayda for many years, when they called me with an opportunity to helm a: ‘music-based, ensemble thriller that speaks to multi-generational film fans’ – I was floored. I found myself swallowed in a chorus of ideas: did I want to go full slasher? What genre of music did I want to explore? How could I put my own spin on it? Then, while lost in this creative maelstrom – an epiphany spurred during an evening stroll; an EDM dance song randomly came on – and the pulsing, consistent bass – like a heartbeat – gave me the inspiration I needed to face the blank page.
I knew two specific things going into the writing process: 1) I didn’t want throwaway, cannon-fodder characters and 2) thematically, I wanted to explore the effects of trauma and the various forms it can take. This undulating, foundational fulcrum helped to guide the arcs of the ensemble in a meaningful way. In a day-and-age of self-made fame and success, I also wanted to explore the depths one would go to retain that glory. More specifically, how and when do we lose our sense of identity – and why? As an homage, the film references Johann Goethe’s Faust and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, both stories that delve into the notion of identity and varying obstacles that come from chasing a dream with violent, reckless abandon.
Each character in the film wants something they can’t have, and while some actively pursue, others silently pine – letting their muddled psyche ultimately guide the conflict of the film. Yes, there’s a masked killer whodunit element. Yes, there are slasher-adjacent kill scene set pieces. But, when you peel away the layers of these characters, whether they’re on the chopping block or not, you will see Dreamcatcher is much more. Sometimes a satirical, social commentary, sometimes a gripping dramatic love story, oftentimes a frightening thrill ride — the film, like the personality of the ensemble, evolves as the story unfolds.
Dreamcatcher is an amalgamation of unfiltered passion and creativity. The cast and crew bonded like family – and the result was an incomparable chemistry that, I believe, enhances the experience from a typified, independent film. I only get to tell this story once – and I wanted it to be thrilling and poignant, progressive and innovative — we must not forget that the second enemy of creativity, after having ‘good taste’, is being safe.
It certainly sounds ambitious, though the publicity logline may sound a bit more interesting to genres fans.
Dylan, known to his fans as DJ Dreamcatcher, is on the brink of global stardom. Everything changes the night of Cataclysm, an underground music festival, where two estranged sisters and their friends meet Dylan. After a drug-fueled gruesome event, things begin to spiral into a 48-hour whirlwind of violence and mayhem.
Written and directed by Jacob Johnston, Dreamcatcher stars Niki Koss, Zachary Gordon, Travis Burns, Blaine Kern III, Olivia Sui, Emrhys Cooper, Elizabeth Posey, Nazanin Mandi, Adrienne Wilkinson, Lou Ferrigno Jr.
Samuel Goldwyn Films will release Dreamcatcher in Theaters, On-Demand and Digital on March 5, 2021.