October 06, 2011

"Dream House" fails to live up to the dream (2.5/5)

Every few years or so a psychological thriller changes the landscape of the game. "The Usual Suspects" "The Sixth Sense" "Primal Fear" This is not one of those movies.

Don't get me wrong. Jim Sterling's thriller "Dream House" is not a bad movie. It could just be so much more.

Daniel Craig stars as Will Atenton, a supposed hotshot editor who quits his job and moves into his "dream house" to be closer with his wife, Libby (The Amazing Rachel Weisz) and daughters Trish and Dee Dee. Everything seems peaceful and overly tranquil until they start seeing shadows in the windows and Will finds a cult of teenagers worshiping in his basement. It's then that he finds out his dream home is the site of a brutal killing spree from five years ago, where Peter Ward went crazy and killed his wife and two daughters before being shot in the head by his wife. As Will starts to uncover more about the crime scene he starts to suspect that his new neighbor Ann (Naomi Watts) knows more about the case than she lets on.

The acting is solid in parts and wooden in others. I know Craig has the acting chops to carry a movie like this but seemed to be disinterested some of the time. This is never more prominent than times of great stress to the characters. When they fear the recently released from a mental home Peter ward is outside their house Weisz understandably seems panicked and scared, while Craig seems to almost roll his eyes and command her to, "just go inside."

Besides some wooden acting the film suffered from some serious plot holes. When the reveal of the film happens, earlier characters that could contradict the twist found their dream homes in "mandyville" and there are entire scenes that add nothing to the overall story.

The greatest sin in my eyes lays with the use of the antagonists in the film. Without giving away too much (that comes in my next post) I can only say that I am hard pressed to find an antagonist so forced upon the audience without plot, story or character development as I am in Dream House.

Still, it was a good time if only a bit mindless. I can still see what the film COULD have been in my head though, which makes this average film hurt worse than a truly horrible one.


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