Dream House (2011)
(15) Running time: 92 minutes
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Director Jim Sheridan is no stranger to excellent films, with classics like The Field, My Left Foot, The Boxer and In the Name of the Father under his belt, Dream House with its excellent cast, appeared to be a guaranteed win. However, during the summer, Sheridan asked for his name to be removed from the film after the producers and studios decided to change things around a bit and mess with Sheridan’s film. Some interesting clips and trailers were released, and in all honesty the film looked OK, until word got out that there were to be no press screenings, a sure fire hint that the film is rubbish. Sheridan was not allowed to have his name removed, and Dream House will forever dent his list of brilliant films. Sheridan was absolutely right to ask for his name to be removed because Dream House is dreadful, however, could the interfering of the studios really have made it THIS much worse?
I am positive all involved would rather forget this film ever even existed, and thankfully the main players of Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts all have films due out soon which will lock away the embarrassment of this so-called horror for good. I guess the only positive for Craig and Weisz is that this is the film where they became a couple, but imagine when they have to show this to their kids (if they have any) and tell them with red faces that this is the film where Mummy and Daddy met. I say burn it now while you still have a chance!
I have seen many bad films this year on straight to DVD, but Dream House is by far the worst film I have seen at the cinema. I have never looked at my watch so much during a film, and I was on the verge of walking out. The only thing that stopped me is that I was half way through and thought, I’ve come this far so let’s finish it. The other reason is that I would not be able to write a fair review had I walked out. The film centres on Will Atenton (Craig) and his wife Libby (Weisz) and their two children. Will leaves his job as a writer and editor where it would appear he does not spend enough time with his family, buying their “dream house” they move to a quiet estate surrounded by woods, and plan a fresh start where Will can spend more time at home and work on his new book. As the snow falls on his way out from his last day of work and he returns to his new home, a postcard perfect snow covered setting, Will is happy and for two minutes you start to become involved with his character. He spots his wife on the porch, throws as snowball and everyone says “ahhhh”, such a lovely moment as he heads in doors, plays games with his girls and cuddles his wife. In less than 24 hours that all changes as one of his daughters spots a man at the window, Will get’s funny looks from his neighbours ex-husband (his neighbour being Ann Patterson played by Naomi Watts), a bunch of Goth kids are having séances in their basement and talk of a family being massacred in their new home is brought up.
Suddenly their dream home is not so good, and Will tries to investigate, with the police being less than helpful. You get an idea of the writing of the film being incredibly lazy, however, as Libby tells Will “there’s something wrong with this house” after just one incident. Come on, give it a chance! But sadly, there is something wrong with the house and something incredibly wrong with the film too. A twist comes almost dead on the half way mark, and if you have seen the trailer then you know exactly what is coming. I felt insulted that the twist would not only come so quick, but be THAT obvious. Then, for ten whole minutes the twist is played out for impact and becomes duller than Ned Flanders and loses all impact and every ounce of credibility. The final half of the film just goes over the same ground, tries to be clever and actually tries to scare and fails miserably on all counts. Even when the action heats up come the end it just feels out of place and a cheap gimmick to raise some adrenalin from the viewer.
Dream House starts off nicely with the family moving in, the setting is gorgeous and some of the scenes between Will and his family are touching. Nervous neighbour Ann gives a good indication to something sinister going on, and even though you would have guessed the twist, the first half is actually not bad and forms a good, but not great story. The film just goes so horribly downhill after the twist it is almost unbearable, the pacing is all off, there is no tension and the acting gets worse as the film goes on. Considering whom the main cast are, you’d expect much better than this. Weisz, shockingly, is the worst of the lot. Clearly smitten by Craig, she forgot her talents and her best moments is when she walks around in her night dress (which thankfully she does most of the time!) Craig does his best, but he just feels wrong, his character feels forced and incredibly fake and Naomi Watts barely gets two lines! Even the great Elias Koteas in a cameo cannot save this nonsense!
Come the end I wouldn’t be surprised if you asked for your money back. The film tries too hard to be everything and ends up being nothing. It wants to be a supernatural horror, a thriller, a romance, an action film, a clever twisty brain fuck film and it doesn’t manage to be any of these. What we are left with is an embarrassing, irritating, mess of a film that does not fit into any genre and, had the actors not had anything due out soon, could well of killed their careers momentarily. This film is awful, truly horrific and should have been a straight to DVD effort at best, but in all honesty the film should really be burned, buried and we can all pretend like it never happened and sleep better at night. I feel like I have been robbed of 90 minutes of my life, 90 minutes I will never get back, 90 minutes which felt more like torture, 90 minutes I beg you all not to put yourself through. If you really want to endure this film, watch the two and a half minute trailer, because from that you will have seen everything you need to see in a much shorter version!