Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Aliens are taking over the world. That's not a joke. Let's reword it. Aliens are taking over the movie world.

The dreamcatcher looks like one of those wicker art works you might buy at a market stall when out of your head on peyote. Hanging from a light bracket, it resembles plate-sized spiders' webs, woven together. It is supposed to catch your nightmares, like the film is supposed to make sense. Both suppositions need to be ignored.

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What begins as an M Night Shyamalan parody about four friends who have the power of premonition and telepathy turns into a remake of The Thing in a hunting cabin in the middle of Maine before completely going to pieces and emulating something from Independence Day. Based on a Stephen King novel and scripted by guys who have done so much better - William Goldman (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid) and Lawrence Kasdan (Body Heat) - it hands the reins to the special effects department, who think its Christmas.

Without getting too bogged down in the world of flashback, where the four buddies save a mentally retarded kid from bullies and are given special powers of perception as a thank you present, the story centres around that cabin in the forest. Thomas Jane is a psychiatrist; Damian Lewis is a school teacher; Timothy Olyphant is a car salesman; Jason Lee is a bum by the looks of it. They decide to spend a long weekend, catching up and drinking beers, as snow falls.

Lewis comes across a man, lost in the wood, and brings him back. He is suffering from what John Hurt had in Alien, but they don't know that yet. When they find out, their bathroom is trashed, the man's a goner and there's a carnivorous megaworm with shark's teeth loose in the house. This creature has no fear, is hungry for blood and drops eggs all over the shop that hatch within minutes, so that little squirmy gnashery things wiggle their way up trouser legs, wherever possible.

Without warning, army helicopters are threatening from above. The whole area has been quarantined and everyone within a wide radius is being given the Sars treatment - close scrutiny within a secure environment - ie concentration camp. Morgan Freeman turns up with a grey brush cut, talking like a redneck whose politics is to the right of Ghengis Khan. He's the colonel is charge of search-and-destroying escaped aliens after their space craft crash landed. Suddenly, it's a whole other film, even crazier than watching grown men being wormed to death.

What happens next requires limited brain interaction. Imagine spiking the special effects crew's Ovaltine with an hallucinatory drug and telling the scriptwriters to lose their inhibitions. The result is laughable, without being enjoyable.

When credulity is treated with such disdain, it gives our friends up there a bad name. Not all extra-terrestrials have no table manners. Ask Steven.

Reviewed on: 24 Apr 2003
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Man-eating worms from space have lunch on witless hunters in the forests of Maine.
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Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Writer: William Goldman, Lawrence Kasdan

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Tom Sizemore, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael O'Neill, Rosemary Dunsmore

Year: 2003

Runtime: 136 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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