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The previews and commercials for Dream House led one to believe it was a horror film, it is not, not at all. I think that is where a lot of the disappointment is coming from. It is a pretty good thriller, once you get used to the fact that that is what you are watching. The storyline, basically that horrible things have happened and we the audience have to figure it out along with the main character, is not the tired thriller standard, or at least the details are different enough to not seem tired. It's actually intriguing and the answer to the mystery is not obvious miles out, even if the climax sort of is. The acting is really quite good too. People who like mystery thrillers should enjoy the film, fans of scary movies will mostly not like it.
Generic and predicable thriller made somewhat bearable by the
undeniable chemistry and acting chops between Daniel Craig and Rachel
Weisz, even though both actors involved deserved better than what they
were giving with the material. Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz work very
well together on screen ( and supposedly in real life as well) but they
should have waited for a better film to showcase their chemistry and
acting chops then this film, which not only does not respect their
efforts in trying to bring humanity and credibility to a badly written
script but does not even try to at least capitalize on their efforts in
bringing more to the movie. Instead, the movie goes into several
different unnecessary directions that goes no where and drags this film
down. Naomi Watts is good as well but i just did not think much about
her character and found her an unnecessary, forced inclusion to the
story that ruins the film by making it even more predictable than it
already is. The film also feels like it was two separate movies before
it became one. Its a ghost story then it moves into a mystery with out
it making much sense, not to mention the fact of how predicable the
whole structure is. Let's just say that you have in fact seen this
Its alright for what it is but it could have been much more, especially with two great actors (Weisz and Craig) having great acting chemistry on screen.
This begins to look like the story of a successful publisher that decides to quit his job and retire to the house of his dreams to live there peacefully with his wife and children. But the story gets complicated while it develops itself and the dream house soon becomes a nightmare one after husband and wife know that terrible murders had taken place there five years before and strange events still related to it are still happening there and scaring them. But from then on the story loses itself in a lot of loose ends making it very confusing although most of them get tied up in the end in a somewhat fanciful outcome. After a certain time we understand that the story mixes up reality and imagination or even dream. The end of the movie may be considered an open ending, happy or unhappy according to the viewer's interpretation of the surprising final scene. The acting is good, the thrilling scenes are good enough and the plot confusion doesn't spoil the movie whole after all.
Dream House had plenty of potential with its story, despite the fact
that it's completely derivative of two other movies. Revealing those
films would spoil the surprise, as they are both popular and
well-received by audiences and critics alike. The shame is not in the
copycat techniques but rather in the failure to exploit the stolen
ideas to the fullest extent. Dream House fuses the plots cleverly, but
fizzles when the first big reveal can be guessed 45 minutes in (if not
sooner) and is then purposely betrayed at the one hour mark so that
audiences can ponder and digest the not-so-shocking revelation.
Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) has finally decided to quit his job as an editor at GPH Publishers to spend more time with his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and kids (Taylor and Claire Geare) and to start writing a book. He moves to a large house in rural Fairfield County, which holds a dark history. In his new home, undisclosed by his realtor, a father brutally murdered his wife and kids. Will eventually learns that the unhinged man, Peter Ward, spent five years in a psychiatric ward and was then released to a halfway house nearby.
Will's children aren't too fond of the considerable dwelling, especially when they see a mysterious man watching them through the window. Fresh footprints in the snow support their sighting, and Will is repeatedly awoken by bumps in the night. The neighbor across from him, Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts), knows something of Ward's incarceration, but refuses to divulge information. Everyone in the town seems rather tight-lipped about the deadly incident, and Will takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of it. When someone continues to harass his family by stalking the house, he visits Ward's institution to uncover some startling evidence.
An accomplished, celebrated cast of characters gives Dream House a higher quality (than its B-movie origins) and greater promise. Some will say they're wasted on this script, but it's not as dismal as that. Unfortunately, it's the kind of storyline that needs polishing, a few more solid thrills, and smarter twists or at least more intelligent psychological zigzags. The serene music compliments the sense of foreboding that steadily creeps into the picture, along with the savvy use of mirrors, reflections, general mise en scene, and shuddersome environment (namely the hallway and basement). Most of it is gimmicky but effective. But as with any mystery, the solution is the most crucial aspect it's the one element that proves most memorable and determines whether or not the film will be recognized as unique. If a whodunit concedes a letdown, even its high points are unlikely to be forgiven.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
In New York, the successful editor Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quits
his job in the GPH Publishers to move to the suburb New Ashford and
dedicate more time to his beloved wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and his
daughters Trish (Taylor Geare) and DeeDee (Claire Geare) and to start
writing a novel.
The family is frightened by a stranger watching them through the window and Will decides to investigate and finds teenagers in a satanic cult in his basement. Sooner he discovers that the family man Peter Ward killed his wife and his two daughters in that house five years ago. Will goes to the police but the officers do not give attention to him. He also learns that Peter Ward spent five years in the Greenhaven Psychiatric Hospital but was recently discharged.
Will tries to get more information about the murder with his neighbor on the other side of the street, the divorced Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts), but she refuses to give any information to him. Will decides to go to Greenhaven to get information about Peter Ward and he discloses a dark secret about the former intern that will affect his life in his dream house.
"Dream House" is a good mystery that deserved a better screenplay. The story has a great potential and a surprising plot point but does not develop well important characters and situations after the revelation of the mystery. Usually this type of twist happens in the end, like in "The Others", or "Ghost", or "Identity", or "The Sixty Sense". In "Dream House', the mystery is disclosed too early and the last twist is very weak and predictable. But anyway I liked this film.
Daniel Craig is one of my favorite contemporary actors and Rachel Weisz is impressively gorgeous. Naomi Watts is effective, as usual, and the relationship of Ann with her husband deserved a better development. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "A Casa dos Sonhos" ("The Dream House")
Note: On 31 March 2012, I saw this film again on Blu-Ray.
Am I the only one that really liked this movie? Am I the only one that
thought it was insanely clever, with a sick double-twist ending? Maybe
not, but from the other reviews it seems like I'm one of the few! I
agree with the other review - I watched this because I thought it was a
horror movie, and it is much more of a psychological creepy awesome
movie. But it's good, enough said.
Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz are great, enough said.
Written really well, and directed well. Once you think 'ah, nice, cliché, I see the ending' - nope! Give it a shot, it's a really great movie. I feel like with a few modifications it could've been even better, on par with The Sixth Sense, but it was still great. I'd watch it again.
Editor and author Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quits a high power job in
Manhattan to relocate with his wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz), and two
girls to a quaint New England town. However, as they settle into their
new life, they discover that their house was the murder scene of a
mother and her two children. Will tries to befriend his neighbour Ann
Patterson (Naomi Watts) and find out from her what happened but she is
not too eager to talk.
Meanwhile, Will's younger daughter starts seeing someone lurking outside the window at night. As Will pieces together the haunting puzzle, he must find out who murdered the family in his dream house before the culprit returns to kill again.
"Dream House" is not a suspense thriller that will jolt you with sudden loud music and cheap scares. Instead, it plays games with your mind, keeping you guessing about what's happening and making you sort out the plot yourself. Now, if you like your thrillers done this way, then go for it. If not, this one is going to be a nightmare...
Director Jim Sheridan's plot build-up is almost by-the-book and he makes no apology for it. The opening scenes show Will as a devoted father and loving husband. At first, his daughter's visions of a shadowy figure are dismissed quietly, but when Will gets physical evidence of someone lurking around, our curiosity heightens. Sheridan, who gave us "My Left Foot" and "In The Name of The Father", is not delivering this thriller to his audience in a platter. He just dishes out the cards and lets his audience sort them out - at least until the closing sequences.
At first, it feels rather weird to see beefcake Craig as a domesticated guy. However, there is a good chemistry between he and Weisz who also lends a loving and tender touch to the proceedings. The kids, played by Claire and Taylor Geare, are also convincing and adorable. It would have been great to see more of Naomi Watts but her role is rather limited - and she acquits herself professionally. Fans of Rachel G. Fox, the Scarvo girl in TV's Desperate Housewives, will find her in a cameo as Ann's daughter Chloe. All in all, a thriller for the thinking viewer.
I went to see this film with great expectations as I'm a great fan of
Sheridan's body of work and also happen to enjoy Psychological
Suspense/Horror films (NOT slasher film trash). So I was really quite
disappointed with this effort by a team that seemed to have so much
But now it all makes sense to learn that the final effort was yanked away from Sheridan; which has resulted in a homogenized and generic thriller made up of (and the result of) idiotic random behind-the-scenes "creative decision making" by Test Audiences(?) and less-than-passionate-about-the-story/genre Studio Heads whose primary involvement was solely in getting a "Horror/Thriller" into theaters by October in order to cash in on the Halloween audience.
Seeing this happen again and again, I doubt they will ever learn. This is the only industry in the world where one (as a Producer) can "fail upward" just because you got something (anything) produced (in the can).
As a final note: There was a fantastic Spec Script floating around a couple of years ago with nearly the same title... "The Dream House." It was somewhat similar, as it involved an Architect & his family who rehab & remodel an abandoned mansion by a lake; but THAT script was a truly terrifying Horror/Ghost Story along the same lines as Shirley Jackson & Robert Wise's quintessential B&W Horror Classic "The Haunting."
With this Dream House turning out to be such a dud and a nightmare, hopefully that spec script will resurface in the near future to make up for this failed effort.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What if, as in "Jacob's Ladder" and "Siesta", the ending changes everything. In "Jacob's Ladder" we learn at the last moment that what we have been watching has been the thoughts of a dying man. We learn in "Siesta" at the last moment that Claire was murdered, and what we have been watching is her remembering the events of the last few days. In "Dream House" we learn that Will has just returned from a stay in the country where he wrote the book "Dream House". If this is true, what we have been viewing would appear to be the creative process that goes through the writers mind as he is writing his novel. The film, to be sure, has not been constructed as well as it could have been, but viewing it again with the ending in mind may help.
For those in tune with tabloid fodder, this is the film that brought
Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz together, and this closeness got
translated on screen as they play husband and wife with two beautiful
children who have uprooted themselves from the bustle of the city and
settled for a quiet suburban area. From the poster alone you may think
you're in a for one heck of a creepy supernatural horror film given the
creepy looking kids blending in with the wallpaper of the titular
house, but this was one great misnomer, coupled with the fact that
director Jim Sheridan and his leading cast have boycotted what was the
final cut of the film when it was wrestled from the director's control,
so as with all troubled productions, the final film bore the brunt of
that falling out, and it tells.
If you are really keen to watch the movie anyhow, then do yourself a favour and skip the trailer. You have to, because this poorly made trailer committed two grave mistakes in imagining things not in the film such as its relentless focus and edit in making one think it's a horror film complete with boo scares at every turn, and worse, revealed a crucial plot point of the story, which made it extremely plodding for those waiting for that particular reveal to show itself so that the film can then continue on for them. Granted there were a little bit more twists and turns in store for the final act, though now they become an exercise of futility just waiting to happen, and didn't come off as much of a surprise anyway since the bulk of the game was already out of the bag.
Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton, an aspiring writer who leaves his day job in order to relocate with his family to spend more quality time with them, as well as to work on his greatest novel. And what more can a man ask for with a perfect wife Libby (Rachel Weisz), perfect children Trish and Dee Dee (Taylor Geare and Claire Geare respectively) and a perfect, beautiful house to live in. And the narrative really took a lot of pain to paint this picture of the perfect life, that is until a shadowy figure started appearing in the front lawn, with inexplicable situations like a car trying to run Will down starting to increase in number and frequency, leaving Will no choice but to do a little bit of personal sleuthing that led to the discovery of just who he really was, with the narrative then switching gears to discover whether Will was insane, or wrongly accused.
Like many shows that featured spirits in them, Dream House follows the mold of having a whodunnit mystery placed into its story, for the viewer to be actively engaged during the sifting through of red herrings, and the protagonist either having to encounter spirits that inevitably assist him in his quest for truth, or impede him by scaring everyone away. Or at least that was the intent and the potential. What happened was a sad state of affairs with a very ordinary narrative void of any scares promised, and came off as more of a mystery, not even a thriller, that took its time to unfold. And with the small number of characters, you'll be able to guess in a jiffy just who the guilty party is. You can probably see shades of Jim Sheridan's intent for a montage of sequences that probably got included by way of being already shot, but alas, that vision he had was not to be.
Which is a pity, since this film boasted a strong cast of Craig, Weisz and severely underutilized actors in Elias Koteas who had so much promise to be so much more menacing, and in Naomi Campbell who stars as Will's neighbour who seemed to be ever so interested in Will's state of affairs and may hold they key to the secret he is looking for. Ultimately it is not that bad a film, if one can consider a pretty average fare with ruined twists done in by its own promotional reel, which held so much prospect in being a psychological mind-bender under a proper director's hands, rather than to become a by product of what could have been no thanks to politicking.
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