After sitting through Dream House, the most compelling question is not anything having to do with plot or character motivations. Instead, the only thing I am left pondering is how do movies with potential go so horribly wrong? This film has a cast full of actors I enjoy watching, like Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz and Elias Koteas. I am a fan of thrillers and horror movies, and normally can find the silver lining in anything that gets creepy and supernatural. However, the only positive thing I can eke out of this is the temporary hypnosis Daniel Craig's blue eyes occasionally caused so I forgot what I was watching.
It takes so many pairs of eyes to make or break a film, it's always tough to know who to blame--and when you fork over cash at a multiplex and end up feeling like you should have just set your $12 on fire instead, it would be nice to bring someone to justice. Let's start with the trailer for this film, which if you've already seen it, gives you the gift of sparing you from having to see the movie. It gives away the most major plot point in an already threadbare film, leaving audiences little to no reason to put some pants on and leave their house. Having said that, the rest of the review contains spoilers, so if you were one of the seven people planning on seeing this film, stop reading here.
The script, written by David Loucka (who wrote the fantastic comedy The Dream Team in 1989), is just a patchwork of many other psychological thrillers involving creepy houses, ghosts, and little girls. There's always room for more in the genre, but something really ingenious has to happen in order to be impressive (anyone remember Insidious from earlier this year? They get an A for effort). Here, Will (Craig) quits his job to be with his family and write a book. Soon, his daughters Trish (Taylor Geare) and Dee Dee (Claire Geare) start seeing a mysterious figure outside the house, and Will finds a group of thrill-seeking goths worshiping something in his root cellar. He learns that the family that used to live in the house was killed, and the father was the prime suspect. This all sounds interesting enough, but with wooden dialogue, a complete lack of character motivation, and plot holes the size of an Aston Martin, the movie is completely hollow. I don't even know why it's called Dream House. I can't understand why everyone stares at Daniel Craig instead of answering his questions. And why do insane asylums release incredibly dangerous, stark raving mad people back into the world? None of it makes sense.
But it's not necessarily his fault either. Some of those problems could be attributed to directing. Jim Sheridan was at the helm, who is no slouch--he directed My Left Foot, among other noteworthy films (of course in the trailer for In America someone decided to label him as "master storyteller Jim Sheridan," which is more than a little ostentatious, but I doubt that was his doing). Did he advise his performers to stare at each other blankly and establish a plodding pace that produced little to no thrills in the first hour of the picture?
We could play this game all day. The bottom line is that so many hands touch a film before we see it on date night, it's tough to know who mucked up what could have been a perfectly decent picture. Stay home and rent The Others, Two Sisters, or even Casino Royale instead.