October 3, 2011

Movie Review: Dream House (2011)

Do want to know what the most memorable part of Dream House is? Nothing. That's right, nothing. This is a movie that is destined to hit the bargain Blu-ray bin and be the answer to trivia questions. Questions like, what movie did Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz get together while making? Or what movie was one of the final nails in director Jim Sheridan's career? Perhaps even what movie was edited by a studio under duress after taking it away from the director? What about what movie starts as a crazy guy story but ends as a ghost story?  Wow, all these questions would seem to indicate that this movie actually is memorable. Unfortunately, it will not likely be remembered for what happens in the movie.

In all seriousness, this will probably all but be forgotten until you stumble across it on some cable network at 2 in the morning. As your eyes adjust and you recognize the faces of Daniel Craig, Rachel Wesiz, and Naomi Watts, you will probably leave it on just trying to figure out what the movie is, and why it is so boring with that sort of cast. You will end up going to sleep while it plays on, and you will realize you have found a good cure for insomnia. You're welcome.

At this stage, so far as the movie is concerned, and not the drama of the budding relationship or a studio taking control away from the director, the biggest thing about Dream House is the marketing. Specifically, the terrible trailer used to market it. It should be known that the trailer contains a pretty big reveal, and while it is not the only big twist or the final one for that matter, it is still a big one that should not have been given away for free. It serves to give you a preconception of what is going to happen inside it, and it is something that should have been revealed int he film and not in a promo bit. I mean, it would be like a trailer for The Empire Strikes Back showing Han Solo being frozen in carbonite. It may not be the biggest or final surprise, but it is still a big one involving a major character.

As the movie opens, we are introduced to Will Atenten (Daniel Craig). He is quitting his job in order to spend more time with his family and to work on his new book deal. We follow him as he arrives home and surprises his wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz), who is waiting at their new home in the country with their two daughters. Everything seems all happy for the family. This is not to last.

The family begin to notice things are not what they seem based on neighbors reactions to them and the fact that Will finds a group of gothy teens in his basement surrounded by candles. Come to find out the prior tenants were killed by the institutionalized father. So, Will goes about investigating it and learns what is revealed in the trailer.

This revelation puts Will into a tailspin. There has to be more truth to it than that. He enlists the help of Ann (Naomi Watts), from across the street. This builds to another revelation, including why Elias Koteas' character has been creeping around.

You know, this should be an interesting movie. It isn't. It is a slow, plodding affair as we watch Craig go through the motions as Will investigates the crimes he was accused of while trying to reconcile with the visions of his family that he is living with. That is until the other revelations come into play and force him into a little more action.

Man, this was a tough won. It look like our big three were trying to make this work, but it just doesn't. I have no idea what the original vision was or what spurred the studio to take over control, but this finished product feels like a by the numbers affair pieced together by suits and an editor who doesn't quite have enough footage to make it work. It doesn't seem to know if it is a story of an off balance guy with visions of his dead family or is it a haunted house story. If the movie doesn't care about what it is, why should I?

Not Recommended.

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