So, this is my defense of Dreamcatcher. The novel, not the movie. I’m an apologist, I guess. I’ve read it twice and never had a problem with it. And both times, like most King novels, the ending is very shaky.
However, the ending of the book at the very least makes more sense than the movie’s ending. For starters, Duddits is not an alien in the book — there is a quick moment when one of the characters towards the end muses whether he could be such a thing but that’s it. Duddits’ death in the book, if memory serves, is far less dramatic. As the movie informs us as well, when we meet him as an adult, he’s extremely ill with cancer, and at the end of the book he just succumbs to his illness, having held on just long enough to protect his friends. FYI, the books ending, like a lot of King novels, takes place on what I can only describe as a metaphysical plain of existence (e.g., Under the Dome’s novel’s ending, which included, spoilers, aliens). Jonesy and Henry are mentally connected to Mr. Gray and it’s Duddits that’s holding the “reality” together. Again, very shaky stuff, but that’s King. Also, I don’t remember anything about pillows.
Regarding what makes the characters broken, it’s kind of the Dead Zone effect. In that story, Johnny received psychic visions and it tore his life apart — that’s the beauty of that novel in the way it presents a reality of someone who is psychic and how that would make them interact with the real world. That’s the characters of Dreamcatcher: they’re given this power when they’re kids and they don’t understand it but they accept it as kids do. But as they grow older and the adult world bears down on them, all of their relationships suffer — except with each other. In the novel, the hunting trip is implied as something they did a lot in their youth but that it’s currently like a crutch to all of them.
So, what’s a Dreamcatcher? My understanding was always that the four characters were essentially “bound” together from their childhood by Duddits as if in the web of a dreamcatcher, which is Duddits himself: the thing that binds them together and serves to protect them. They protected and befriended him and sharing his gifts was his way of communicating friendship — in the novel it is alluded to that he could take it away at will if he ever felt hurt by one of the characters. Duddits himself is very psychic and it is implied in the story that he saw the events of the novel coming, even if he didn’t quite understand them completely. Again, like Johnny Smith (Dead Zone), the psychic powers of this story work like image flashes: the characters can see a set of images and sometimes make connections to what they mean, but not always.
The memory warehouse isn’t quite so literal in the novel and King uses it abstractly. It’s an indirect effect from Duddits’ gift — again, as Duddits is the dreamcatcher, it’s a metaphysical field that protects Jonesy from being completely consumed by Mr. Gray. The novel explains that Mr. Gray has “infected” many beings and is puzzled why he can’t completely get rid of Jonesy’s presence. This leads to much frustration and irrational decisions on Mr. Gray’s part.
There’s also a lot more cancer symbolism in the novel that the movie glazed over. All of the animals running in the beginning at the cabin, in the novel closer attention is paid to the substance on their skin, which is called Ripley (a direct reference to Alien). If it’s growing on you, it’s not a good thing at all (i.e., cancer).
But to me the best example of how the movie got everything wrong is Beaver. When I heard Jason Lee was going to play the character, I was excited — he looked, talked and acted like the Beaver in the novel already! And yet, everything in the movie is wrong. Beaver talks very peculiar in the novel, and that’s explicitly stated by his friends, who refer to his silly one-liners as “Beav-isms.” In the movie, the Beav-isms are delivered like hollow exposition that sets up nothing. Beaver was the heart of the novel and when he died, it was gut-wrenching. In the movie, he’s literally too dumb to live.
Stephen King is a confounding person. He’s disavowed many of his novels over the years, including The Tommyknockers, and has even mentioned that he thinks all of The Dark Tower books need a rewrite. As a fan, it’s very jarring to hear him talk about his own work. Especially considering that these days, he continues with shoehorning in old characters into his new books. You guys mentioned in the episode regarding the IT/Derry references — in the novel 11/22/63, there’s a scene where the main character stumbles across Bev and Richie, now in their teens, dancing with each other.
The man can’t help himself but we all still love him!
Hopefully that clarifies a lot of things but I understand there’s a lot in the movie that’s baffling, a lot of it even to me.
Again, I can only defend the novel, not the movie. Thanks guys for another great episode. As always, can’t wait for more!