Dream House

Undecided between mystery, horror and thriller, Dream House is ultimately a nightmare to sit through.

My first sense of disbelief came in wondering what Daniel Craig was doing in a mystery thriller, that too one that sports subtle elements of horror. However, by the time I got to the part where the so called mystery unravels, I was drowning in a second yet overwhelming wave of utter disbelief. Simply said, this has to be one of the worst movies of 2011, especially since there was a lot riding on the directorial approach of master storyteller Jim Sheridan. Yes, THE Jim Sheridan, six-time Oscar nominee and THE driving force behind actor Daniel Day-Lewis and their mutual claim to fame In the Name of the Father.

It all begins the day New York publisher Will Atenton (Craig) quits his job and moves into a nice piece of real estate with his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and their daughters. Before the family can settle in, they learn that the previous inhabitants, a woman and her children, were brutally killed with the husband being the prime suspect. Will begins to dig around and with the help of neighbour Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts), opens a big can of ghosts from the past. Literally.

Perhaps the studio and the distributors made a blunder by marketing this movie as a horror thriller instead of a mystery thriller (yes, there is a difference). At one point it actually sets off in the direction of a psychological thriller before doing a complete 180 degree spin in the opposite direction. An error like that is quite understandable considering how misleading movie trailers can be. But how do you explain making a movie from a totally ridiculous script? On one hand it is always good to have a clever plot twist. On the other hand, an ill-conceived plot twist becomes a no-brainer when it crumbles under its own weight.

You can’t really blame real life couple Craig and Weisz for the failure of this movie when its failure is mainly due to an underwritten screenplay that gets totally gutted after the mystery unfolds. I am not sure what Sheridan saw in this story or how he expected it to play out, but from where I’m sitting, I see this movie on the exact opposite end of the spectrum when comparing it to The Sixth Sense.

If you are wondering whether Craig can fit into any other character besides Bond, my answer is yes, but not quite snug. At least not in a mess of a movie as this turned out to be. Together, Craig and Weisz are well cast and believable as an on screen couple, making their portrayals the only saving grace here. Watts, on the other hand, is miscast and doesn’t appear to add anything worth remembering, even in her limited screen time. Elias Koteas and Marton Csokas appear mostly towards the end. Although their characters adds some reveal to Will’s foggy mystery, it is the plot twists that come with these characters that ultimately cause the ending to crash and burn. Literally.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.