Movie #11: Dream House

Imagine if The Sixth Sense kept going after the big “I see dead people” reveal and the story kept twisting, getting more complicated and even added a final twist with an over-the-top, action-filled ending. Would that ruin a clever premise and drive it into the ground? Well, that’s kind of what happened to Dream House. Daniel Craig (Good thing you have that 007 gig to fall back on, Mr. Bond!) plays Will Atenton, an editor who takes early retirement to work on a novel and spend time with his family. He, his wife (played by Rachel Weisz), and their two daughters live in a quaint, suburban house. Everything seems idyllic until they start hearing neighbourhood chatter about how the former residents of the house had died there: the father murdered his young daughters and his wife. As Will digs deeper into the background of this murder, he learns that the father did not die and is being treated at an institution. Things start to get creepier as Will finds out that Goth kids have been using his cellar to “re-enact” and celebrate the gruesome murder, and his family notices the dark shadow of a man lurking around their property. Also, their neighbour across the street (played by Naomi Watts. Weren’t you nominated for an Oscar, Naomi? Why are you returning to the low-budget, creepy films that you cut your teeth on?) obviously knows a lot more than she’s letting on about the previous family. Nevertheless, just when you start to get a sense of where the movie is heading, the first big twist occurs. I’m not going to spoil the reveal, but it’s not completely unexpected. What you don’t expect is how early it comes (i.e. midway through the film). Do you remember the movie Cast Away, with Tom Hanks? The strange thing about it was that Hanks’s character being rescued was not the finale of the film. There was still a big anti-climactic chunk of the film that followed. That’s a bit how this movie feels. With a big twist, you think that’s the end, but the movie keeps going and sadly never lives up to its initial cleverness. The rest of the story kind of unravels. When the truth is finally revealed about that murdered family and how it connects to this family, I was actually kind of confused. Similarly, there is a supernatural, ghostly element to this movie, but it’s not clear whether it is real or imagined. By the end, the film comes down on one side of that debate, but the answer still seems kind of bogus. It’s unfortunate how I would like to keep this review relatively spoiler-free because it is also preventing me from going further into how bad the movie is. In any case, if you’re expecting a creepy haunted-house horror (based on the obviously ironic title), you might kind of be satisfied. However, if you were looking for a gripping, suspenseful movie with head-scratching twists and a nice, supernatural overtone, just re-watch The Sixth Sense or even Ms. Watts’s The Ring. This Dream House is really more of a nightmare (Oh, come on … you knew I had to go there!) (2.5 out of 5)

11 down, 39 to go!

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