Sweet dreams are made of Zzzzzzzz…
The H-Bomb: So this is a dream house, huh? It must have been one dull ass dream. But how did it go wrong? This film, which I’m guessing was supposed to be a thriller, certainly had a dream team on both sides of the camera. A first rate director in Jim Sheridan (“My Left Foot”, “In America”), and a first rate cast in Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts. Sadly, instead of being a clever, well crafted spookfest with A-List talent, “Dream House” is merely a very well polished turd, one in which the audience will not be trying to untangle the over-tangled mystery, but will instead be wondering how it all ended up being such a thrilless and chilless bore?
Well, before I go into what went wrong, let me briefly take you through the set up: Book editor Will Atenton (Craig, sporting a laughably dorky haircut) is quitting his high paying job in NYC and relocating to a small town to write a novel, and spend more time with his all-to-perfect wife, Libby (Weisz), and their all-too-perfect daughters. The house they move into is a definite fixer-upper, but everyone’s happy… that is, until the girls start seeing a strange man out their window, and start hearing things go bump and creak in the night.
One snowy evening, such unnatural sounds lure Will into the basement, where he catches a pack of emo brats messing around with dolls and spray painting things on the walls. Will grabs one as they attempt to run, and she tells him about the man who used to own the house, Peter Ward, and how he murdered his wife and two daughters some five years earlier. When Will goes around town asking about the murders, he notices people giving him the stink eye. In particular, his neighbor across the street, divorcee Ann (Watts), seems to know more about the murders than she lets on. As Will tracks down this Peter Ward, who was recently released from the local laughing factory, he discovers something that… well, I should stop there.
To divulge any more at this point would be to drop some major spoilers, not that it would really matter, since the fucking trailer spoiled at least one major twist anyway (seriously, which intellectually challenged Marketing intern cut the trailer to this thing– I want his fuckin’ name!). Not that it really matters that much, since I highly doubt that not knowing this plot development would have enhanced my enjoyment of this hopelessly dreary affair.
Which brings me back to my original query, despite the Oscar Caliber Pedigree involved, where the hell did this lead footed, boring-er-than-thou “thriller” go wrong? Well, to me the answer is pretty obvious; this “Dream House” simply lacked the foundation it needed to stay standing. To put it more simply, it lacked a good script. When it isn’t just running through the list of supernatural thriller clichés, it’s just hokey, unbelievable, and kind of stupid (the scene in which a character’s name is explained is one of the dumbest, most unintentionally funny moments I’ve seen in any movie). After the key twist, the one the trailer brilliantly gives away, is revealed halfway through, the story just becomes illogical, repetitive, until it finally culminates in a climax that’s as rushed and tacked on as it is preposterous.
I feel bad for this cast, because they try, they really do. But when you give them nothing to work with, how can you expect anything more than nothing in return? I like Daniel Craig, and I really want him to have a bonafide hit outside of Bond, but for him, this is a Double-O Zero. I still have hopes for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. Weisz does her best with a role that basically required her to alternate between looking happy, looking concerned, and looking scared. She’s done better.
Watts, who looks like she’s had one facelift too many, has even less to do than Weitz, in what has to be her most thankless role since “Children of the Corn IV”. The great Canadian actor Elias Koteas is also in here, but God knows why, because he’s wasted completely in an important but severely underdeveloped role.
Plainly put, “Dream House” is a stinker. When it’s not going the “been there, done that, seen that, bored with that” route, it’s just making no fucking sense at all. The last time I sat through a suspense flick this lifeless was around this time last year with “My Soul to Take“, and while it didn’t quite plummet to the same level of suckage as that Godforsaken piece of shit, it comes shockingly close. Overall, “Dream House” is one sorry excuse for a scary movie, and one lame way to kick off the Halloween season.