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Heather's DVD Review: Dream House
Is it possible for someone to find happiness in the most dire of circumstances? What if there is a death toll involved? That's the premise behind the movie Dream House, now on DVD, which followed a family embroiled in a very dangerous situation with some surprisingly familiar results.
Dream House followed the newly unemployed published Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) who just quit his high paying job to spend more time with his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and their two daughters (Taylor Geare and Claire Geare). Will is also planning to write his own book and fix things around their recently purchased home. They're adjusting to their new life in their new house in the suburbs, but they didn't expect that their happiness would be short lived. Will and Libby found out that their house was once the killing ground that left most of the Ward family, the previous owners, dead. There was one survivor in the form of Peter Ward, the family's patriarch and chief suspect. The Atentons felt like they were being watched and the local police were unwilling to help. As Will digs deeper for the truth, he realized that his new neighbor Ann Paterson (Naomi Watts) could help solve the mystery. Will he like her answers or learn to accept the harsh truth?
In terms of being a horror movie, Dream House is more of a family drama with a hint of a horrific tragedy for good measure. The initial images of a happy family are countered with the undertow of a past senseless crime. The real shock was how the two scenarios had more of a connection than anyone could truly fathom. The movie's major downfall was not truly preparing the audience with a proper build-up that truly made the ending all the more devastating. Sadly, House's preview made a huge mistake in giving away a crucial plot point that sort of took at least half of the surprise out of the movie's ending. The plot has been done before in better films Memento (for the fractured character with memory issues subplot) and the slight supernatural twists (The Grudge and The Ring to name a few). House made a valiant effort of telling a good family gone horribly wrong story and its aftermath, but its PG-13 rating put a hugh restriction on how scary it could truly be.
In terms of the acting, Craig and Weisz played upon their off-screen chemistry perfectly. The audience could truly believe that their sudden off-screen marriage last year made perfect sense. Unfortunately, Weisz didn't have much to do in the rest of the film, except look forlornly at Craig. Weisz's true breakthrough came at the end of the film when she learned to accept reality as it was and allowed her family to do the same. Her off-screen better half had more to do because he went through the biggest transformation. Craig went from a mild mannered and polished businessman who slowly unraveled when he found out his personal connection to the murders. The movie's biggest casualty was Watts' mysterious neighbor who mostly lurked in the shadows and didn't get a shot at a story until it was too late. It's a shame, because her interactions with Craig proved to have potential that was never fully explored. Let's hope that Watts and Craig get another chance to work together sooner or later to get a true shot at exploring their onscreen potential.
Verdict: A minor movie that started off slow, but redeemed itself in the end.
DVD Score: 2 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: PG-13
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)