Anything but a ‘Dream House’

Far too often thrillers blur the lines between reality and fantasy, unfortunately Dream House is no different.  With accalimed director Jim Sheridan in line with an impressive acting cast boasting Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts, Dream House should have exceeded the expectations, instead, it falls somewhere between great and horrible.

Unfortunately, according to various sources (reported on IMDb and MTV, to name a couple) Morgan Creek Studios lost faith in the film toward the end and took control away from Sheridan resulting in a bitter battle.  Sheridan, Craig and Weisz refused to promote the film through media appearances, as they were all unhappy with the end result.  Is this the truth?  Possibly, where exactly was the press coverage and promotion for Dream House?  Allegedly, Sheridan, Craig and Weisz also thought the studio’s final trailer for the movie gave away too much information.  After seeing this film, the claims seem valid and the claim over the trailer giving away too much of the plot is completely accurate.  See the trailer below:

The trailer indeed does reveal too much of this story, things that should be kept in the film (the whole bit about him being released five years ago) are blatantly obvious in the trailer and would have served the film better as a surprise in the film!  In addtion, in support of the above claims, two scenes from the trailer are not in the film – 1) Rachel Weisz isn’t knife wielding (to my recollection) and 2) that really beautiful scene of the hand brushing the wall isn’t there either (that I kept waiting for).

Fortunately, it’s obvious the film had a great direction to begin with as the acting is nicely done and the actors all have a sense of cohesion and “family” – which seems to be a commonality in Sheridan films (think In America from 2002).  It’s beautifully made to say the least, it’s just lacking a lot of the shock factor.  Dream House is a story about Will Atenton (Daniel Craig), his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and their two daughters Trish (Taylor Geare) and Dee Dee (Claire Geare) who relocate to a suburban area from the big city.  Will quits his job as an editor, to spend more time with his family and focus on writing his novel, during which time the family learns of the horrific murders that occured in the house – and that’s when things begin to unwind.

First, it should go without saying, Sheridan evokes some really amazing performances from child actors, which likely has to do with working with real-life siblings.  In this case, the Geare sisters deliver solid performances of their own (as did the Bolger sisters in In America).  But while the acting and some of the imagery are quite amazing, the scare this film is supposed to have is all but present, clearly this isn’t The Shining.  Sure, there are a couple moments capable of inciting a jump or two, but other than that most of what you see is what you get from the trailer (save for the big reveal at the end, which would be quite good if Daniel Craig’s character “Will” wasn’t so fascinating).  All in all, the character building is nice, but the resolve and third act twist is not only predictable, but it could have and should have been better overall.  It’s as if the screenwriter, David Loucka, poured his heart and soul into developing “Will” as a character that the end of the story was just wrapped up in a sloppy, unattended way that did nothing to build the true villain with a motive for insurance money.  Really?

I had high expectations for Dream House considering those involved, but it’s obvious something happened along the way because the film isn’t anywhere near as good as it should have been.  Through the film, it’ll be quiet, people will be attentive.  They’ll be happy and surprised with the psychological aspects of the character “Will,” and they’ll be interested in Anne Patterson (Naomi Watts), Libby, Trish and Dee Dee and it’s easy to become lost in where you think the film will go.  After the final scene though, people will question where the scare was hiding and why they’d invested time watching a film with a strong build to the final (weak) twist.  It’s worth viewing, honestly, but the surprise won’t be there so much.

Dream House runs 92 minutes and is rated PG-13.

Grade:  C+


One thought on “Anything but a ‘Dream House’

  1. Ohhhh the old family unknowingly moves into a house where horrific happenings previously occurred and find their lives destroyed plot……with a “weak” and pre-disclosed twist……hmmmm!

    ’tis a shame because I really love the acting styles of the women Rachel Weisz & Naomi Watts and Daniel Craig usually puts in a decent effort.

    A C+ rating from Bobby-james doesn’t fill my mind with confidence that this movie will thrill me, entertain me and hold my attention for even the relatively short running time or 92 minutes.

    Thank you for the review BJ……well written as always, Paulie

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