Dream House (2011)
Directed by Jim Sheridan
Fuckity fuck fuck fuck. This is NOT a horror movie so let’s just get that out of the way along with my use of the word 'fuck' as I struggle to find more flowery language for this mess of a film. Let’s begin, shall we?
Will Atenton (Craig) loves his family. To not miss watching his two adorable daughters grow up, he leaves his cushy city job in favor of a budding writing career and life in the bosom of suburbia. The film does its best to paint Craig as the cheerful, merry prankster dad, but as we stare into those cold gray eyes and intense face, we wonder at what point Mr. Atenton is going to strangle his children with his bare hands. This man just doesn’t convey “warm and fuzzy” very well.
At any rate, it isn’t long before our sugar-coated family learns that their beautiful, idyllic home has walls riddled with bullet holes and the blood of its former residents. The ominous presence of a man at the window further enhances the building terror of those living under this roof. Will begins his quest to unravel the mystery of the murders casting a shadow on this otherwise happy home and his search for a man who seems to be the only survivor of their home’s dark past.
It is at this point we begin to feel duped by commercials suggesting this will be a film about a home threatening to tear a family apart, either through possession, ghostly interference or perhaps quite literally for a change! A thriller/murder mystery trudges along in its place, lost in pointless scenes of misdirection and people staring blankly at each other, punctuated with excitement-free chases in our hero’s own back yard (or front yard, as it were).
As we hit the mid-point, a twist we have seen many times before emerges (laughably since it was already spoiled in the trailer), making the loving family routine and mystery crap seem even more pointless. A check of the watch reveals you aren’t even an hour in so you scratch your head and wonder where the hell this film is going to go from here. The answer is nowhere. For every moment where you feel this might be a ballsy film that throws in a typical twist and says, “Hang on, we are going to run with this for a while now”, we get two odd scenes of the almost supernatural that will most likely leave you laughing in disbelief. I’m sure it is the opposite of the reaction the creators were going for. Please do laugh it up. It is the only joy to be found in this brain achingly slow labyrinth of a movie.
The reveal at the finale seems like a last minute re-write as the whole piece comes crashing down with the emotional weight of cream forming a thin film at the surface of your coffee. The potentially creepy trailer visuals turn out to be nothing more than mere seconds seemingly shot with an iPhone on the “Hipstermatic” setting, and though I will concede there is an infinitesimal element of the supernatural in this film, it amounts to NOTHING.
This is a loveless film with kids that may as well be kittens, a plot seemingly sliced to ribbons and reformed by an editor guided by studio suits at knife point and actors that seem as lost as you will be when watching this train wreck. Oh… and that’s Rachel Weisz in this film, too! This usually likable actress is given nothing to chew on so her performance falls flat as we watch a relationship with Craig with zero chemistry and love for daughters equal to that of a read through of an overly mushy Hallmark card. You will find ZERO creeps here as the filmmakers seem confident that their thriller is so worthy of your time, they need not bother with even a cheap jump scare. It is only the marketing department that seemed to spin this as a horror film so spread the word: Dream House is less scary than that skinny Twilight girl screaming in heartbroken anguish for 20 minutes in whatever soul-sucking installment of the films that happened in. I still have nightmares. I can thank Creepy for that special torment. If this film had a face, I would put a pillow over it while it slept and give it a peaceful death.
1 out of 5