Dream House
dir Jim Sheridan
scr David Loucka
prd Daniel Bobker, Ehren Kruger, David C Robinson, James G Robinson
with Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Marton Csokas, Elias Koteas, Taylor Geare, Claire Geare, Rachel Fox, Jane Alexander, Brian Murray, Bernadette Quigley, Sarah Gadon
release US 30.Sep.11, UK 25.Nov.11
11/US 1h32
Dream House
Something's just not right: Weisz and Craig

watts csokas koteas
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Dream House There's an intriguing idea here, but this thriller feels like it has been compromised in the test-screening phase, resulting in a badly muddled plot. And even a lot of talent in front of and behind the camera can't rescue it.

Will (Craig) has just quit his job as a Manhattan editor to spend more time with his wife (Weisz) and young daughters (Geare and Geare) in their suburban home. But something isn't right. A suspicious man (Koteas) is lurking in the night, while the ex-husband (Csokas) of the neighbour (Watts) across the street oozes pure rage. Then Will starts to realise that nothing is what it seems to be. And he'll need to face reality if he hopes to sort things out.

If you managed to avoid this film's ubiquitous trailer, the plot's key gimmick, which isn't revealed until halfway in, might feel like a clever twist. Otherwise, there's absolutely no tension in the build-up. Then the choppy screenplay stirs in a contrived villain. And it's clear who this will be even before we realise that the story needs a villain, which it doesn't. Beneath all of this are the ruins of a more interesting blending of The Shining with The Others.

Even so, Craig delivers a committed performance as a father who thinks he's losing his mind. Craig's movie-star charisma and buff physique add interest to a guy who's deeply conflicted and spends much of the film unsure of what's actually happening. Weisz and Watts are also solid, even if their characters feel underwritten, but Csokas and especially Koteas are wasted in roles that have no weight at all.

Director Sheridan establishes a wonderfully dreamy tone that nicely contrasts with the realistic family interaction. And the early creep-outs are genuinely unnerving. Then the story slips into corny, overwrought nuttiness with a script full of gaping holes (one Google search would solve the whole mystery) and production designers who think that bad lighting in the basement is all you need to create atmosphere. But the real problem is that the film feels tampered with, edited into something neither the director nor writer intended. And the result is a thriller that's both bland and predictable

cert 12 themes, language, violence 24.Oct.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall