DVD Review: Dream House

PrintE-mail Written by Cleaver Patterson

DVD Review: Dream House / Cert: 15 / Director: Jim Sheridan / Screenplay: David Loucka / Starring: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts / Release Date: Out Now

People used to remark about Roger Moore's acting abilities as James Bond, saying that his range of emotions depended on which eyebrow he arched. At least you could say that this did show a degree of animation, a characteristic his current Bond successor Daniel Craig is completely devoid of particularly in his latest outing, the lukewarm chiller Dream House (2011).  Starring the wooden Mr Craig in a role for which both Christian Bale and Brad Pitt were originally considered (bet they're relieved they passed on this one), along with Craig's real-life wife Rachel Weisz and the gorgeous Naomi Watts (who is one of the only good things about the film), director Jim Sheridan's supposed edge-of-your-seat nail-biter is more likely to kill you through boredom than fright.

Will Atenton (Craig) and his wife Libby (Weisz) leave the rat-race of New York City for life in the suburbs, in order for him to devote more time to the best-selling novel he has been working on. With their daughters Trish and Dee Dee (played by real-life sisters Taylor and Claire Geare), the couple move into a run-down house which has remained empty since being abandoned by its owners five years previously. Once settled in Will and Libby set about renovating their new home with verve and enthusiasm (to the extent that you wonder when Will is getting time to write this inspiring novel which he was apparently so eager to work on).

Everything seems to be progressing smoothly until a series of strange events (mainly involving the local town's folk, who become freaked out for no reason every time they encounter Will), begin to terrify Libby and the girls and make Will start to question his own increasingly fragile grip on reality. However it's not long before the couple discover why their new home has sat on the market for so long, and that what they thought was their 'dream house' is more of a nightmare due to a sinister and horrifying past.

I'm not sure what I was hoping for with Dream House, but it was certainly something more inspiring than this lacklustre amalgamation of haunted house hokum and mad killer thriller, which in the end is so unsure as to what it is trying to be that it results in being nothing at all. Everything is such a hotchpotch, particularly during the climatic last third where the action flits intermittently back and forth between reality and fantasy to such an extent that you no longer know what's real and what isn't.

The neighbours’ hostility and lack of co-operation with Will and Libby in their efforts to get to the bottom of the mysterious incidents plaguing their new home, and the local police's dismissal of their fears and concerns is clearly meant to rack up the tension, but instead results in becoming as irritating and frustrating for the viewer as it is for the bewildered couple. Unfortunately David Loucka's screenplay gives Craig little more to do in moments of supposed horror, than to shout at Weisz to "get back in the house"', which one imagines she is happy to do if only to get away from her husband as much as from any encroaching evil.

One would love to find something positive to say about the film - the 'dream house' for instance is beautiful in a typically post Scream, wealthy American suburb way. But that's just clutching at straws. From the posters and advance publicity you'd be forgiven for thinking you were settling down to a horror film – but horror is unfortunately the main ingredient missing from this soulless production.

Apparently after disagreements between Sheridan and the film's production studio Morgan Creek, he, along with Craig and Weisz, refused to have anything to do with promoting the film to the press. After watching it you'll understand why.

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