Review: “Dream House” – Susan Granger
Without doubt, the greatest disappointment of the week is this lame wannabe psychological thriller which unwisely revealed its things-are-not-what-they-seem twist in the Coming Attractions trailer.
Successful book editor Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) decides to quit his publishing job in Manhattan and move to seemingly idyllic suburbia with his wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz), and two young daughters (real-life sisters Taylor Geare, Claire Astin Geare) to work on his first novel – only to discover that a family was brutally murdered in their house five years earlier. The father, Peter Ward, was suspected of the horrific killings but he was never convicted and has since been released from psychiatric care.
To augment the bucolic creepiness, a strange, sinister man (Elias Koteas) is skulking around and Goth teenagers hold candlelit rituals in the Atentons’ basement. Their skittish neighbor, Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts), obviously knows more than she’s willing to share but she’s battling with her angry ex-husband, Jack (Marton Csokas), for custody of their daughter Chloe (Rachel Fox).
“I feel safe when you’re here,” blissfully ignorant Libby sighs.
What is baffling is why two-time Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan (“My Left Foot,” “In the Name of the Father,” “In America”) ever agreed to direct David Loucka’s ludicrous, derivative script which tosses together familiarly generic elements from “The Shining,” “The Amityville Horror,” “The Others,” ”Shutter Island,” even “The Sixth Sense.” Rumor has it that Sheridan battled with Morgan Creek producer James G. Robinson continuously on the set and subsequently lost control of the film. And when Morgan Creek’s editors unevenly re-cut it, they created the spoiler trailer which gave away the plot’s essential secret.
Another unsolved mystery is why Craig inexplicably keeps stripping off his shirt in the middle of a snowy, windy, New England winter. By far the most interesting aspect of this film is that its co-stars, Craig and Weisz, fell in love on the set, split from their respective longtime partners and subsequently got married.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Dream House” is a tiresome, tedious 3. It’s destined to foreclosure.