Oh The Horror!
For those in tune with tabloid fodder, this is the film that brought Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz together, and this closeness got translated on screen as they play husband and wife with two beautiful children who have uprooted themselves from the bustle of the city and settled for a quiet suburban area. From the poster alone you may think you're in a for one heck of a creepy supernatural horror film given the creepy looking kids blending in with the wallpaper of the titular house, but this was one great misnomer, coupled with the fact that director Jim Sheridan and his leading cast have boycotted what was the final cut of the film when it was wrestled from the director's control, so as with all troubled productions, the final film bore the brunt of that falling out, and it tells.
If you are really keen to watch the movie anyhow, then do yourself a favour and skip the trailer. You have to, because this poorly made trailer committed two grave mistakes in imagining things not in the film such as its relentless focus and edit in making one think it's a horror film complete with boo scares at every turn, and worse, revealed a crucial plot point of the story, which made it extremely plodding for those waiting for that particular reveal to show itself so that the film can then continue on for them. Granted there were a little bit more twists and turns in store for the final act, though now they become an exercise of futility just waiting to happen, and didn't come off as much of a surprise anyway since the bulk of the game was already out of the bag.
Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton, an aspiring writer who leaves his day job in order to relocate with his family to spend more quality time with them, as well as to work on his greatest novel. And what more can a man ask for with a perfect wife Libby (Rachel Weisz), perfect children Trish and Dee Dee (Taylor Geare and Claire Geare respectively) and a perfect, beautiful house to live in. And the narrative really took a lot of pain to paint this picture of the perfect life, that is until a shadowy figure started appearing in the front lawn, with inexplicable situations like a car trying to run Will down starting to increase in number and frequency, leaving Will no choice but to do a little bit of personal sleuthing that led to the discovery of just who he really was, with the narrative then switching gears to discover whether Will was insane, or wrongly accused.
Like many shows that featured spirits in them, Dream House follows the mold of having a whodunnit mystery placed into its story, for the viewer to be actively engaged during the sifting through of red herrings, and the protagonist either having to encounter spirits that inevitably assist him in his quest for truth, or impede him by scaring everyone away. Or at least that was the intent and the potential. What happened was a sad state of affairs with a very ordinary narrative void of any scares promised, and came off as more of a mystery, not even a thriller, that took its time to unfold. And with the small number of characters, you'll be able to guess in a jiffy just who the guilty party is. You can probably see shades of Jim Sheridan's intent for a montage of sequences that probably got included by way of being already shot, but alas, that vision he had was not to be.
Which is a pity, since this film boasted a strong cast of Craig, Weisz and severely underutilized actors in Elias Koteas who had so much promise to be so much more menacing, and in Naomi Campbell who stars as Will's neighbour who seemed to be ever so interested in Will's state of affairs and may hold they key to the secret he is looking for. Ultimately it is not that bad a film, if one can consider a pretty average fare with ruined twists done in by its own promotional reel, which held so much prospect in being a psychological mind-bender under a proper director's hands, rather than to become a by product of what could have been no thanks to politicking.