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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 01.30.12] horror thriller

Year: 2011
Director: Jim Sheridan
Writer: David Loucka
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Amazon: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 4 out of 10

There's a specific type of psychological thriller, the ones which include creepy mental institutions and unstable individuals but rarely do these turn out. It's almost as if "almost crazy" doesn't come across well on the screen. Dream House looked like it may get it right: a high pedigree cast including Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts and Elias Koteas and Jim Sheridan who, though he's failed to deliver anything great over the last few years, still brings with him the possibility of his early success, along with a great trailer suggested that they may finally have gotten it right. Or not.

Craig plays Will, is a successful guy whose life seems to be on the rise. He's left his successful job in the city with an advance in hand for a book and moved the family to the suburbs. No sooner has he arrived that things start to get strange. Someone is watching the family and as Will investigates, he begins to realize that the house was the location of a grizzly murder of a woman and her daughters and that the victims were his family. As his fantasy world starts to crack, Will fights to keep his dream family alive while also trying to uncover the truth about their deaths. It's a convoluted story which sadly, is just as convoluted on screen.

Dream House starts well enough but as Will begins to uncover the truth of what happened and fantasy and reality collide, the story loses traction. There's no urgency in finding out why he killed his family, if he actually did it, or why his mind has fractured to the point where he's blocked out the events leading to his family's death. To complicate matters, there is the inexplicable introduction of a man whose ex-wife has wiped him clean and won full custody of their daughter and a next door neighbour who constantly appears for no apparent reason. We later find out the details of why these two are important but the reveal, also acting as the film's twist, doesn't surprise.

This is Craig's film and he tries very hard to deliver a strong performance but the material doesn't leave much room for small moments and both Craig and Weisz are bombastic. The countless moments of romance and breakdowns are bland and un-interesting which doesn't do much for selling the emotional connection to the story which is one of the major reasons Dream House isn't successful; we simply don't care that Will may or may not have killed his family.

One thing Dream House does do well is set mood. Everything about the house is warm and inviting but once inside, even the pastel yellow walls and flowers aren't enough to dispel the feeling that something's not right. It's warm but also dark and the combination of lighting and set design work their magic to create a home that's both inviting and scary. The house deteriorating effects are also excellent but technical achievement isn't enough to salvage this mediocre tale.

Though it looks nice and features a great cast, Dream House is a forgettable thriller, one that's not deserving of the great talent attached. Rack this one up to another miss for Sheridan.

Dram House is available on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, January 30th.

DVD Extras: Cast interviews with Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts and Jim Sheridan as well as a three part featurette.

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Jeff (10 years ago) Reply

Considering the fact that this movie was cut to ribbons by the studio, i would not blame the director for this. Even Weisz and Craig are reportedly not happy with the movie. That's why they refused to do press for it.

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