Dream House

30 Oct

Title: Dream House
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Jim Sheridan
Writer: David Loucka
Starring: 
Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Marton Csokas
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, violence, terror, some sexuality and brief strong language
Runtime: 
92 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
5.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 
7%

 

I didn’t really know what to make of Dream House when I first heard of it, on one side it seemed like a generic haunted house movie, but then you read the names of the people involved in it and you had to at least put some faith in the film. I mean, this is a Jim Sheridan film, a six-time Academy Award nominee and the guy responsible for such amazing films as My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, The Boxer and In America, the fact that a guy like him, one who has given us three of Daniel Day Lewis’ most masterful performances, was attracted to this material had to mean something, and the fact that he had lured in Daniel Craig as well as Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts, two of the finest actresses working today for my money, only backed up that opinion. And yet, upon watching Dream House it became painfully obvious that my first opinion was the right one, it ended up being just a really predictable and overdone horror film.

And it sucks because you know that Mr. Sheridan is a guy that obviously has it in him because he’s done really great movies, but this is a guy that should have realized by now that he should stick to doing movies that resonate with him personally and have some sort of relationship to his life, his best films have been all about Ireland in some way, where he’s from, with In America, which he co-wrote with his daughters all the way to an Academy Award nomination, being somewhat semi-autobiographical about his experience about immigrating to New York. But ever since the very moving In America, which came out in 2002, Mr. Sheridan has tried to tell other stories, and they’ve all been a far cry from the level of greatness achieved with his past films, making the very dubious decision to direct 50 Cent on 2005’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’, which was based on the rapper’s life, and then taking four years off to make Brothers, which was actually a fine film with amazing performances by Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal, but that in the end really failed to resonate the way his past films have. And now he comes out with Dream House, which only makes it even more obvious the man has to go and make a film about stuff he actually knows about.

But then again apparently Mr. Sheridan himself knew this film wasn’t a good one, fighting over creative control of the film while on set with the head of the studio and going ahead and shooting some new scenes when the original ones didn’t go well with test audiences, which resulted in the studio taking the film away from him and cutting it themselves, even releasing a trailer that kind of spoiled a lot of the film’s good bits for people. That resulted in Mr. Sheridan wanting to take his name off the film, which is obviously never a good sign and I should’ve known this wasn’t going to be good. But still, you know? I mean, this is Jim Sheridan and a cast full of really competent actors, not to mention the talents of Caleb Deschanel (father of our #1 girl over here, Zooey), a very talented and experienced cinematographer who has worked on the likes of Being There and The Passion of the Christ. So it was still quite a shame to see so much wasted talent.

Will, the character Mr. Craig plays, is this successful guy from Manhattan who decides to relocate with his wife Libby, played by Ms. Weisz, and their two daughters to a new home in the New England area. But you know that a film that introduces this successful guy and then has him relocate to a new house to spend more time with his family probably won’t be about domestic bliss for all that long, and indeed that’s what happens when Dream House turns into this really kind of slow and foolish haunted house movie, a thriller that never once really thrills. The thing is that the movie never really established anything for it to then take down to our shock and horror, I mean, obviously we’re supposed to be alarmed when these people find out that their supposedly perfect new life isn’t as it seems, but we never really care about their lives for us to care about the new findings surrounding it, and thus the film never really has a fighting chance.

The stuff that happens is that apparently there was once a murder in the basement of the house, but the police and their secretive new neighbor, played by Ms. Watts, really do nothing to help out, and all the stuff we get to eventually find out about the murder really doesn’t gel at all, so it gets to the point that because these mysteries end up being so stuffed and inconsistent we don’t care at all when there’s that middle-of-the-film twists that’s supposed to take things for a loop. Look, this isn’t an unbearable film, because even if Mr. Sheridan and his team are nowhere near the top of their game they’re Mr. Sheridan and his team, and even if Mr. Craig kind of sucks here at least we have Ms. Weisz who always delivers. But the thing is that a year from now when you ask me about Dream House I’ll tell you that this was the film in which Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz met and then got married, the rest won’t really matter.

Grade: C

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