Horror movies that get released in September without any screenings and very little marketing usually spells trouble, especially if your film is directed by a known director, Jim Sheridan and stars Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts. Usually those would be the stars you’d really like to sell, but Dream House is a mess from production and no one could really save it. Its problems don’t lie with the director or any of its performers, instead they lie with the poorly written script and the washed up story that has been done a few times before. Everyone working on the project tried to change the ships path from destruction, but it was too far along to be saved.
Will (Daniel Craig) 08-10-10, I mean Atenton, is your everyday working family man. He decides that his family is more important than work, so he quits his job in hopes of finishing his novel that he is writing in the comfort of his own home with his two loving children and his beautiful wife Libby (Rachel Weisz). They recently moved into this new house without doing any background check on its previous owners. After getting settled in they realize that this dream house may not be the dream they wanted. What looks like a harmless little shack turns out to be a residence of violence. After discussing with the local authorities and several spooky neighbors, Will finds out the true history of this house.
A man named Peter Ward murdered his two daughters and his wife and then disappeared into a mental hospital for five years. Since there wasn’t enough conclusive evidence to prove that Ward committed these crimes, they had to let him go and he is now out in the real world. Will spends the rest of the film unraveling the true past of the house and finding out where and who Peter really is. The secrets he discovers are life changing and eye opening for Will and his family.
The only other character with any sort of purpose is his neighbor Ann Paterson (Naomi Watts). Ann was best friends with Ward’s wife before she was innocently murdered and she still lives with her daughter in the house across the street. There’s something creepy about innocent Ann that Will notices and her character comes to fruition as the film progresses.
Dream House is your typical run-of-the-mill creepy horror house tale that doesn’t bring anything we haven’t seen before. It starts out as a very watchable and harmless tale of a man unraveling a troubled past, but then it turns for the completely obvious. The film starts out with some promise given the talent involved both in front of and behind the lens. Jim Sheridan is a hit or miss director, but he always knows how to film a movie to make it at least watchable. The soft colors mixed with the snowy winter create a calm enough atmosphere, but the story is just so basic and formulaic. Dream House spends its first half ripping off basic ideas from Shutter Island and then its second half ending plays off like a poor man’s Stir of Echoes. A twist is tossed in, but it’s so obvious at this point that you can’t help but to sigh.
Daniel Craig is simply walking the steps of his character Will without bringing any convincing emotion. His performance is fine, but it’s just Daniel Craig standing in front of a camera, kind of trying. His wife is played by the very beautiful Rachel Weisz and she fairs a little better in her supporting role. Weisz always has a sort of screen presence that really makes her worth watching. She’s a very convincible wife and she makes it easy to understand the pain Craig’s character is going through in middle point of the film. The chemistry her and Craig share is backed up by her and she makes the family feel authentic and meaningful.
Naomi Watts is the only bigger star that doesn’t really hold her weight. Where Craig is kind of boring, but still trying, Watts just seems straight up bored and distant. Her character never really shows any sign of purpose, other than to explain the back story in case anyone was still having problems figuring out what’s really happening. It’s a shame though because Watts is usually pretty good and her character is a big part of the films ending, but she never really gets that point across. She really comes off as someone who is there when Will runs out of other characters to interact with.
The acting on the whole is fine. Everyone involved makes poorly written roles watchable, but they don’t really elevate them into something special. You can’t fully blame the performers for a bad writing job, but you’d think that they’d be able to spice it up a little.
Dream House is incredibly slow. At 92 minutes the film really does feel like a chore. The pacing takes its sweet time moving the story a long and it really hurts a film that could have been quick and painless. The problem with how it moves is its reveals. Everything is so blatantly obvious, but the reveals try and milk the audience for all their worth. Within the opening minutes I knew exactly what was going down, but then I had to sit through 25 minutes before we get our first reveal. Then, the rest of the reveals slowly push their way out, in a very dreary manner. Dream House wouldn’t have been as bad if it realized it was a rip off of other films and sped up the whole process. It began to feel really pointless and tedious in its delivery.
Another irritating thing was its lack of logic. The film is full of scenes that logically shouldn’t exist. Everything dealing with the police would never happen in a real life scenario and several instances dealing with the house and its surrounding people make you smack your head. It insults the viewers over and over with these moments of questioning logic.
Dream House is just a really lazy film. It brings up a certain supernatural element towards the end that they could have really expanded upon and made something with, but instead they just throw it out there and forget it happened. There was one point where I really wanted to credit it for really going off the deep end, but then it kept moving on without shedding more light. There are a few moments like this sprinkled throughout the film and its really annoying noticing them and then having to sit back and continue to watch the garbage we are instead given. There are correct pieces in the film, but none of the right ones are used. Sheridan takes the easiest way out and makes a thriller without thrills.
It’s a shame that Dream House didn’t amount to anything. I’m usually a supporter of troubled production films and smaller thrillers like this. The cast was on hand, but the story wasn’t. The only way to describe why Dream House was made is money. I’m sure Sheridan, Craig, Weisz and Watts got easy paychecks and that’s it. There’s really nothing else to enjoy here. The film doesn’t have problems on a technical level with things like the camerawork, music and such, but it drops the ball massively in the story and characters. Nothing is given a sense of purpose and it all goes downhill from there.
Dream House – 6.5/10