I love Clive Barker. I may even be a bit of a sucker for his work.
So, I take no joy in the fact that Dread is the first movie adaptation of his work that I fully didn't care for since Rawhead Rex. I know the complaints with various other of the movie adaptations, and even understand most of them. I just don't feel they substantially keep me from enjoying the works.
Admittedly, the original story "Dread", from his Books of Blood, is not one of the stories that's stuck with me over the years, so I may be the wrong person to speak to this movie. Perhaps it's just the story itself that doesn't speak to me.
However, I can't help thinking a more timely adaptation, in the late '80s or even early '90s wouldn't have worked better. This story of a group of college students studying fear seems inordinately trite after the number of other low-budget horror movies have tread this ground in the years since... some quite likely merely ripping Barker off.
The execution here does nothing to set it apart from those many middling movies. The characters all come across as flat. They seem like mere ciphers of young people and their fears, even the "big deal" fears all feel generic, so even when one of the characters suggests they're finally getting somewhere, I felt like I was still in a Lifetime movie.
Barker spends an embarrassing amount of time praising screenwriter/director Anthony DiBlasi in an interview of the DVD. I can't help thinking that his own connection to the material doesn't color in the layers on these characters that were missing for me, and I suspect will be for most viewers.