Dream House is almost as good as the story surrounding the movie

Dream House – 2011

Directed by Jim Sheridan
Starring Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz, Martin Csokas, Elias Koteas, Taylor and Clair Geare
Written by David Loucka

The director and stars of Dream House balked at promoting the film, essentially due to the way the movie was cut after its test screenings.  What’s more, Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig met each other and liked the experience so much that they decided to marry less than a year later.  While watching the film, I knew none of this.  It is almost certain that in the hands of director Sheridan (In The Name of the Father, My Left Foot, The FieldIn America) the film could have been better.  It may have been better still if the trailer for the film had not given away salient plot points.  As it turned out, I see a flawed, but effective supernatural thriller.

Daniel Craig, as Will Atenton, starts out leaving his place of employment to meet up with his wife and children at the new house they had bought, where he is going to write the novel that resides within his being.  His Real Estate Agent meets up with him at the train station and, for some reason, drives him to the home, presumably for the first time, that his wife and kids are already settling into.  Why would this be?  I will leave it to you to discover.

Soon, we see his daughters becoming scared and Will and his wife discover someone or something is spying on them.  He goes to the police, but they treat Will like he is a nuisance.  Later, in the middle of the night, Will discovers a bunch of punk kids hiding in the basement, celebrating in the notoriety of the house.  He meets his neighbors, who are acrimoniously divorced and arguing in front of the house.  As he drives by, husband (Csokas) gives him a look of confusion and anger.  Will strikes up an uneasy acquaintance with Anne (Watts) just about the time things start getting worse.

Daniel Craig does a good job reacting to the circumstances of his character.  He plays it like most fathers who love their kids might do, even if he stays a bit longer than I would.  As we know, though, if the script says you stay, the script will out.  As his wife, Libby, Weisz is present, concerned and filled with practical thoughts.  This is good for the plot, as any leaning in her performance would tip the scales and give away what the trailer already had.  Watts performance as the neighbor dovetails nicely with the elements involved.  There is every sign looking backwards that each of these characters, even peripheral, make sense in their own way.

The last 3rd of the movie descends into violence that is chaotic and dispiriting, but even it fits with the plot.  My guess is the story would play better in Europe without the test screen changes, but even here, it is not too bad.

Jim Sheridan wanted his name taken off this film.  If it were me, I would have removed it sooner from “Get Rich or Die Tryin.”   Even after everything burns down, this story still stands above that one.

(*** out of *****)

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