Review: “Dream House” – Susan Granger

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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.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.