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Film only review
Here we have my latest film rental, this ones a bit odd as neither of us remember adding it, but I'm guessing I added it as it has Daniel Craig in it.
This is a hard one to explain without giving the whole story away, but I will try :) The basic story centres around Will (played by Daniel Craig), and his family, who move into their "dream house" in the country and then discover that the previous occupants were murdered. About a quarter of the way through I was thinking "oh no I've picked a horror film", but no it's a psychological thriller with a few scary moments.
The main character is Will Atenton played by Daniel Craig, I thought his acting was good and he was believable as the confused husband trying to protect his family. The other characters are his wife Libby, played by Rachel Weisz, who I also thought was good, although I found her acting a bit weak in the climax. Then there is the neighbour Ann Patterson, played by Naomi Watts, whose acting as the mysterious neighbour is also good. The other main characters are the couple's children Trish, played by Taylor Geare and Dee Dee played by Claire Geare, their acting was also good. There are also other actors whose acting complemented the film, including the creepy Jack Patterson, Ann's ex husband played by Marton Csokas.
So what did I think
Overall I enjoyed this film, it has a good ending, the acting was good, and the plot was complicated enough to keep you guessing, without being too complex. I don't know if I would watch this again though, as once you know the twist I'm not sure you would enjoy it as much the second time. I've giving it 4 stars as it's a good film, but lacks staying power for me.
Dream House is a film that I was really looking forward to seeing mainly based upon the trailer which (falsely) portrayed it as a grown up ghost story. I love a good scary movie but I am getting a little fed up of watching a bunch of teenagers getting cut up in ever more ingenious ways so was looking forward to what I thought was going to be a creepy old fashioned ghost story.
~~~~~~~~~~ Plot ~~~~~~~~~~~
The plot of Dream House involves a man named Will Atenton who gives up his successful career in New York City to relocate his family to a small quaint town in the suburbs so that they can spend more time together as a family and Will can work on writing a book. The couple move into what is supposed to be their dream home but soon find out that the previous family were murdered in the house. Desperate to try and get to the bottom of the story of the murdered family Will investigates the crime and finds out that both the police and the rest of the town believe that the husband of the previous family murdered his wife and children.
When strange things begin to happen at the house Will finds out that the husband was recently released from a mental institution and may be coming back to his old house with the intent to remove Will and his family from their new dream home.
~~~~~~~~~~ my opinion ~~~~~~~~~~
This was a bit of a weird film. The actual plot was completely different to how the trailer portrayed it to be and wouldn't have been out of place in a made for TV movie the likes the show on channel 5 during the middle of the night.
It started off really well but soon got bogged down by its convoluted storyline its desperate attempt at a big twist during the film was just poorly executed and the ending laughable. I can't go into too many details for fear of spoiling it for those who may wish to sit through it but believe me when I say my ten year old niece has a better imagination than the writers of this film.
One of the main reasons that I found it so disappointing was because of the calibre of the actors involved. It stars Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz. I would have expected actors of this calibre to choose better material but obviously this film must have paid well. Daniel Craig stumbles along the film (with an English accent, surely he could have at least went for an American one) looking completely out of place and sports one of the most unflattering hairstyles I have ever seen. Honestly I found his hair to be so distracting that I couldn't actually concentrate on the movie for the most part.
I am a big fan of both Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz but they were both wasted in this. Naomi literally has nothing to do until near the very end and while I do think she is an amazing actress there was something off about her performance in this. Perhaps she finally read the script and realised she didn't really know what she was supposed to be doing. Rachel Weisz fares the best out of the lead three actors but her part is a bit of a thankless one and again I can only imagine it was the money that lured her into this project.
The film was directed by the Irish director Jim Sheriden who again has a great pedigree having directed one of my favourite films 'In America' and also 'My left foot' but he also fails to do a decent job and the movie plods from one clunky scene to another and has no sense of flow or timing. In fact the whole thing just drags and it feels like a much longer movie than its 92 minutes might have you believe it would. I had to watch it to the end just because I was in awe of how bad it actually was.
The music was probably the best part of the film and seemed in keeping with what the music of a creepy movie should be and it never really overshadowed the dialogue. It's not to say it was amazing or anything but definitely much better than the rest of the film.
As you can probably tell from my review I absolutely hated this film and would go so far as to class it as one of the worst if not the worst movie I have seen in the past 12 months. It is a shame that with the amount of talent involved in making this that Dream House was the best they could come up with. I can understand why there was so little in the way of promotion from the stars when it came out as they will be hoping that the film is quickly forgotten and that they can just brush it under the carpet and move on to bigger and hopefully better things.
I came across this recently and was tempted to give it a go out of curiosity as to how Craig would be in a horror film. I would actually say, having seen it, that Dream House falls within the psychological thriller genre; it doesn't offer anything amazingly new and I wouldn't say there were any scares, but it was able to hold my attention throughout and I found it enjoyable enough.
Dream House was directed by Jim Sheridan, who has worked on a few films though most I don't recognise. This is probably his first big piece thanks to a couple of top names in the cast, though I don't really remember much advertising or any talk about this film before coming across it online. We're introduced to Will Atenton, a business man who is in the process of leaving work and not returning, instead deciding to spend time with his family in their new home. Driving home, we see the neighbourhood looks fairly close-knit, and the house is lovely (and about 10 times the size of ours it would seem). It's the relaxed feeling of a suburban home, complete with a wife and 2 young girls inside.
All seems perfect, like a fairy tale beginning of a 'proper' family life without the daily grind getting in the way. Working on doing the new house up, the adults are kept busy whilst the children play with smiles on their faces. The idyllic scene starts to crumble when one of the girls thinks she saw a man at the window; despite spying no one outside, there are footprints, and shortly afterwards Will discovers some kids mucking about in the cellar. It looks like a satanic cult down there, and it's through their talk and other strange rumours that Will and Rachel learn that they've unknowingly purchased a house where the family was murdered. Who did it? Possibly the father, who is 'out there' somewhere after being released, his only wound a gun shot to the head after his wife was able to fire at him before dying. So, only a little wound then!
I won't say much more on the premise other than that the rest of the film follows us through Will's detective work regarding what happened in that house, who was responsible, and who may be back to kill again. Throughout this time we meet a few new characters who provide Will with some clues, such as the neighbour Ann Patterson, who seems to be holding back. It's a bit of a murder mystery in this sense, growing darker as the premise progresses to move in to the realm of a psychological thriller.
There isn't much in the way of gore in this flick, and even though it's not jam packed with action, there is some to keep things interesting and give it a bit more impact. The pace was relatively good at building tension, along with the dramatic music and mysterious scenes, and I didn't feel like it dragged too much. Even in the quieter moments it was still watchable enough that I didn't get bored, and the premise was intelligent enough to be somewhat interesting without being confusing.
On to the downsides, of which there were a few. There were several points where I felt the film was slipping in to the realms of cliché, either through the music or the script. I get the point of making the Dream House and perfect family stereotype as cheesy as possible to show the contrast of how things eventually progress, but it was still a little off-putting. If I didn't have the patience for a film to zone out to last night, I probably wouldn't have bothered watching this after the first few scenes, or I would have doubted why I bothered watching it in the first place. The premise itself was so-so in the sense that although it offered a different tangent to what may have been expected, it still wasn't really anything I couldn't have guessed, with nothing really done that was shockingly new. The ending felt a tad disappointing, both because of the cliché element and because it felt a little lack-lustre given everything that had happened, seemingly over the course of a couple of days. There were also moments where the realism didn't ring true enough to make the characters or scenes believable; upon finding a cult in my basement with scribbles over the walls about death and dolls scattered around the place, I probably would have been a little more perturbed than Libby, the wife, appeared to be.
The cast, however, was probably what, for me at least, made this okay to watch. This included Daniel Craig (the protagonist Will Atenton), Rachel Weisz (Will's wife Libby), Taylor and Claire Geare (the kids Trish and Dee Dee) and Naomi Watts (the neighbour Ann Patterson) amongst others. Craig was front and centre of the film and did a good job on the whole. Again, there were moments he came across as a little out of place and cliché, but I put this down to the script and direction rather than Craig himself. For some reason, however, I found him very easy to watch and if it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't have bothered, which is strange considering I was so dubious of how he'd come across in the first place. Weisz and Watts were equally watchable and gave the film a better quality feel to it, more credibility and made it overall that bit more enjoyable.
Would I recommend? As far as psych thrillers go, this was okay for a night in alone. It wasn't scary and it wasn't anything special, and it definitely had some aspects that niggled at me, but it was easy enough to watch for nearly an hour and a half. Not one I'd rush out to watch, and I wouldn't watch again, but you could definitely do worse. I'm giving it a 4 not because the twistiness and creativity of the premise was amazing, but because the cast made it worth while enough for me.
DVD released 2012, rated Certificate 15, running time 88 minutes
Selling on Amazon for £10.49