Monday, 30 April 2012
Dream House (2011): Review
Dream House is a 2011 psychological thriller film. Directed by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, The Boxer) starring Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Rachel Weisz (The Mummy) and Naomi Watts (The Ring, King Kong). The cast and crew were reportedly so unhappy with the final cut of the film that Sheridan tried to have his name removed and the cast refused to do any promotion for the film's release.
The film follows Will Atenton (Craig), his wife Libby (Weisz) and their 2 children as they move into their dream house in a seemingly quiet suburban neighbourhood. However things are not as they seem as the family start to notice strange figures watching their house and bizarrely, teenagers squatting in their basement. Will soon discovers his new house was the site of some grisly murders as local Peter Ward was accused of slaughtering his own family 2 years previous, this prompts Will to perform his own investigations as he becomes obsessed with what happened in his house and who has been stalking his family.
Dream House is a very nuts and bolts, cliched film. It is directly comparable to horror classics such as The shining (1981) and The Amityville Horror (1979) and certainly rehashes the very tired "family move into a house with a haunted past" schtick, however I'd be very reluctant to call Dream House any kind of horror film. Though suspenseful in parts there is a noticeable lack of scares or atmosphere surrounding what is supposed to be a very creepy house and no clear antagonist to speak of. Derivative in many ways, the film's most predictable element is it's "shocking twist" given away fairly early in the runtime, this twist has been directly cribbed from a recent well-known (and certainly more acclaimed) movie which I won't mention as it would spoil the surprise (if you hadn't already figured it out).
The film received a royal kicking from most critics and clearly the actors were embarrassed about their involvement but they shouldn't be, the 3 central performances from Craig, Weisz and Watts are the only things that keep the film from being an utterly boring, predictable chore. Craig himself plays it a little bit wooden but Weisz gives a fine performance but as ever, Watts shines through whenever she's given enough time to do so. If anything I feel Watts was underused, especially as she has a proven track record in horror (The Ring, Funny Games) and I feel it would have been better to have given her the female lead over Weisz.
Cliched, predictable and boring at times but still enough intrigue to keep you guessing and engaged in the acting at other times, Dream House is a mixed bag. Nowhere near as terrible as the reviews suggest but instantly forgettable, I would only recommend the film to big fans of Craig, Weisz or Watts.
2 Stars **
What did you think of Dream House? Do you think the general critical consensus was fair?