There are three things I knew about Dream House going in:
1. This was the movie wherein the beautiful and talented Rachel Weisz and the even more beautiful and talented Daniel Craig fell in love, creating a union that very well may destroy us mere mortals
2. This was not to be confused with (though for simpletons like me, would ALWAYS be confused with) the wonderfully wicked Hong Kong satire Dream Home
3. Anyone who watched the trailer knew the 'big twist,' one of those huge plot turns that apparently ruins the viewing experience
4. It wasn't going to be very good
Having not seen the trailer and having an odd fascination with cinematic horror that is not very good, I naturally queued it up on Instant Watch.
Quick Plot: Will Atenton is a big shot New York City editor handing in his resignation to spend more time with his wife and daughters in their new New England home. How big a shot is Will? Such a big shot that he has a whole staff carry his belongings out in those brown boxes that exist in every firing/quitting scene you've ever seen on film.
Before you can order a martini shaken not stirred, Will and his family are experiencing some strangeness at the homestead. Shifty neighbor Anne (Naomi Watts, because more talent should always be wasted) seems to be hiding something, but more pressingly, a batch of teenagers hold a black mass in the Atenton basement. Not surprisingly, we learn that the house was once the site of a tragic unsolved massacre wherein someone shot a mother and two little girls. All evidence pointed to the father, who has since been released from a mental institution.
Dream House was, to put it mildly, a troubled production. Aforementioned trailer reveals the film's huge twist (which in fairness, comes around the hour mark, so perhaps an argument could be made that it doesn't COMPLETELY ruin the film) and director Jim Sheridan apparently clashed so hard with the studio that he asked to have his name removed from the final product. Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz supported him by refusing to do any press for the film.
Also, nothing in it really makes any sense.
This isn't a terrible film by any means. The actors are all professionals (though I have a personal aversion to hearing the normally lovely Rachel Weisz speak with an American accent). The visual style has some interesting things going for it in how it suggests the Atenton New England neighborhood as something a little otherworldly. The family dynamic is warm enough that I was fairly invested in their fate. The ingredients, if you will, were definitely there.
The problem, quite simply, is that nothing is mixed or cooked or combined or cobbled together in any way to make sense. After you learn the twist, there's simply so much that doesn't make any logical sense. For a small example, the mere fact that one can apparently walk from a secluded country home to the heart of town in the middle of a harsh winter and back again before sunset requires more than a fair share of suspension of disbelief. Unlike the trailer, I’ll avoid spoiling a key point, but suffice to say, Elias Koteas shows up as the most incompetent criminal this side of Shredder.
Hey, at least the ladies get some eye candy
Look, I'm not really one to complain about an impeccably crafted male body on display, but the very idea that Will had that much time to work on his abs is a little dubious. Still, lady eye candy is nice in a genre typically catered towards the male gaze
Some types of jobs can be made much more foolproof with a picture or at the very least, a browse on Google Earth
There is ALWAYS time to maintain your Bond physique
One has no need for a car if living in the very pedestrian-friendly New England countryside
Dream House is, very simply, not a very good movie. It ultimately seems to be aiming for the same mature crowd as, say, The Skeptic. The tone doesn’t know if it should be genuinely dark and disturbing or grandparent-friendly, leaving the material to sizzle, grow cold, and eventually, become easily forgettable. There is some heart to the performances to at least keep some invested, but even on Instant Watch, this is a skip. Check out Dream Home instead. If nothing else, seeing both will free you from always wondering which title you did indeed watch.