Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Dream House (2011)


Image: Universal

Dream House has arrived with a lot of baggage. There’s the fact that stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz fell in love on set (with Weisz leaving husband Darren Aronofsky). There are also those reports of enforced reshoots, studio interference, and there’s the fact that the stars have refused to do any publicity for the film at all. Not exactly a good sign, but we tried to reserve judgement.

Will Atenton (Craig) is a New York writer who quits his lucrative job to move to the suburbs with his wife Libby (Weisz) and two young daughters. But all is not what it seems. A terrible murder was committed in that same house five years ago. Neither the police nor the next door neighbour Ann (Naomi Watts) is willing to give Will a straight answer. Does he want to know the truth?

If you saw the trailer for Dream House, you know the first major plot twist (and can probably guess each subsequent one). But the reveal the trailer spoiled arrives roughly around the half hour mark and if you know it’s coming, it’s very difficult to put your prior knowledge aside and enjoy the film. We won’t discuss it, and to be honest you’re going to need every bit of enjoyment you can get. Whether director Jim Sheridan, who is far too good for this, can place all the blame on Morgan Creek (who have a history of interfering with horror films, most notoriously William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III) or whether the script was terrible to begin with, we’ll never really know.

Based on the evidence onscreen, it’s safe to assume the script wasn’t exactly stunning. It’s a generic, if starry, ghost story. Craig gets better as the character gets more interesting, finding some pathos in a weak script. The same cannot be said for Weisz, who only really seems like she’s enjoying herself when she’s actually making eye-contact with Craig. As for Watts, the apologetic look on her face could just as well be directed at the audience as to her co-stars, and she’s only on screen for about ten minutes. 

At times it’s so bad that it seems like the cast and director are deliberately sabotaging it, but there are moments where you can see promise. It’s possible that, if it had been left alone, it could have been an enjoyable little ghost story. As it is, Dream House is a lacklustre, uninspired chiller with awful dialogue and uninspired twists. It’s left to Craig to keep you involved, but there’s a real sense that everyone would just as soon forget this film ever existed.

Skip it. The troubled production history is much more interesting than the finished product.



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