March 31, 2003 12:00 PM

Morgan Freeman, Jason Lee, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane

Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote and directed The Big Chill, goes for the big kill with his latest effort, a botched horror film. Dreamcatcher, based on a Stephen King novel and adapted by Kasdan and William Goldman, is about four childhood buddies (think Stand by Me) who grow up with shared psychic powers. As adults, they head off to a cabin in the Maine woods for a weekend and find themselves threatened by rapacious, toothsome alien creatures. (Shouldn’t our heroes’ paranormal abilities have warned them against the trip?) At the same time this quartet is trying to stay alive, a top military unit led by a whacked-out commander (Freeman) is also taking aim at the pesky critters.

Little of this makes much sense, and the confusion only grows as the movie progresses. The screen is drenched in blood and body parts (the evil creatures emerge from people’s backsides—don’t ask), and it takes a strong stomach to sit through several scenes. The acting ranges from competent (Lee and Sizemore) to wooden (Jane) to an over-the-top John Wayne imitation (Freeman). (R)

BOTTOM LINE: A nightmare

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