Psychological thrillers and ghost stories. Two of my favorite horror genres which was why I immediately became interested with writer David Loucka and director Jim Sheridan’s “Dream House”. The film also has a stellar cast that could easily attract mainstream audiences. I have to admit I was a little mad at myself for missing this film and theaters. Now that I’ve seen it, what do I think? Was it as good as I had hoped for?
Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) is an editor who had just quit his job as an editor to write his own book. Will is also a family man who has recently moved to the suburbs with his wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz) and their two daughters. The family seemed well at ease with their dream home, that is until a stalker had began to spy on Will’s family and to make things worst, they find out that the house was the scene of a multiple homicide five years ago. Will sets out to investigate its past, and the more he digs, the more he hears of the name Peter Ward. This leads to several startling revelations about the house’s past, a connection to a woman named Ann (Naomi Watts) and to Will himself…
The film’s script carries a lot of ambition. The direction was also pretty capable of drawing in the viewer with foreshadowing, misdirection and I have to admit the twist was pretty effective. It does instill doubt into the viewer’s mind, and I became really curious as to how the story would unfold. I mean, sure, it was all the usual “was it all in his mind or was it really for real?”--”did he really or didn’t he?”. The direction was smooth and it flowed well as I never felt that the film was boring. True, the script may not be wholly original and some may see the twist coming. But the direction managed to keep up the momentum in the first two acts of the film. (the third act I will discuss a little further)
I guess what made the film flow and how the flaws of the script may have been ignored was because of the strength of the performances. Daniel Craig made for a very capable lead. I truly was able to buy the confusion, anger and frustration the more I watched his character. Add an amazing supporting cast made up of Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz, and the film just commanded attention. The chemistry between Craig and Weisz was very believable and it is no surprise since the two is a real life couple (or so I’ve read). The genuine emotions and the dynamics of the two characters really stole the show. I could really feel their pain, fear and confusion. I was rooting for them all the way, and I hoped that they would win out in the end. Naomi Watts may have limited screen time but she commanded the pace of her subplot with her ex-husband (played by Marton Csokas) that it helped the film draw me in.
I mean, I knew there was a twist coming, and when it came, it opened up to other possibilities that will point to the workings of a ghost story. The film was very engaging up to the second act, and then things went downhill. The script seemed to have lost a lot of its focus as the third act became rather silly; it was so filled with holes and with the revelations tied into the rest of the film, it just did not match the rest of the film’s quality. The pacing in the film was very good in the first two acts, but as soon as the film tried to wrap things up, I began to lose interest. It was inexplicable; the sudden change in tone and mood really hurt the film. It went in a completely different direction that I wondered if the screenplay had been rewritten to suit the needs of certain characters.
Yes, the performances may have been good enough to keep this film from my ’garbage list’. I also have to admit that the direction was well paced that the film was never boring for the most part. Credit also needs to be given to the cinematography; it was so nice to see how the film executed the shadows and the manipulation of close ups. I did, however, have some issues when it faked its suspense, and what was meant to engage or scare, were scenes that became fillers. I guess the soundtrack botched some scenes, but made the third act even more silly and a little corny.
“Dream House” wasn’t a terrible film, but it was just too improbable and lacked any effort to attain credibility in its scenes. There were just so many great things about it that it was such a shame that it could not keep up the momentum and whatever it had achieved fell to futility. Such a shame. I was hopeful that it would become something of “A Tale of Two Sisters”, all that fine effort was wasted. I guess the filmmakers did not have the guts to take all the risks with a real solid ghost story/thriller, instead dumbed it all down.
Half a star out of **** Such a sad thing it is, when a director and his stars can't even take pride in their own movie. Jim Sheridan and actors Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts have openly expressed their disapproval of how "Dream House" turned out; and it's only now that I can take part in their pain, although being a simple onlooker, I probably can't quite relate to the feeling. But in a strange sort of way, I'm OK with that. The film is a prime example of what … more
Will (Daniel Craig) retires to live in his dream house with his family, but scary things start happening; it turns out the last residents were murdered and now someone is after his wife and kids. On the positive side, Craig does a good job playing something besides 007 and there are a few, mild, bump-in-the-night scares. Also, he married his co-star, Rachel Weisz. On the down side, the script is silly, convoluted, and makes the audience feel like dopes in the last scene. … more