Dream House (2011)
Director: Jim Sheridan who wants his name off the movie
After moving into their new digs in the country, Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) and his family learn that murders were committed there and when somebody begins to stalk them; the man of the house decides to get to the bottom of things.
Am late on this one, all I heard are bad things, but with Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts starring, and 6 time Oscar Nominee (and one of my favs) Jim Sheridan behind the camera on top of that, I couldn't stay away. Now the horror behind the making of DREAM HOUSE is actually scarier than the film itself.
On set director Jim Sheridan and Morgan Creek had creative arm wrestling matches (for some reason Sheridan liked to improvise and deviate from the script, maybe the script had problems I guess). Then a disastrous text screening went down which led to Sheridan going to the DGA to try to have his name removed from the flick. So in response, Morgan Creek let him do some re-shoots (so the appeal was dropped), but tension flared up and eventually Morgan Creek booted him out of the editing room and took over the shape of the project. Once all was said and done, Jim Sheridan, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz were shown the final cut of the movie and they hated it so much that they refused to do press to support it. Ouch! The last nails in this one pre-release circus was a ridiculously SPOILER heavy trailer (that I saw today for the first time after seeing the film, I try to avoid trailers, they spoil too much these days, this one took it a step further in that department).
My standpoint on all of this? Well I gotta go with what I know: My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, The Boxer, Brothers... Jim Sheridan is no clown, he knows how to to tell a story. Morgan Creek? This reminds me of the fiasco they had with Paul Schrader and The Exorcist 4 in 2004. They hired an auteur filmmaker and expected him to deliver the usual Studio celluloid fast food. When they didn't get what they wanted they hired Renny Harlin to reshoot 85% of the film resulting in two versions out there and lots of money wasted. It's no coincidence that I usually dig foreign horror or non Studio USA genre pictures more; cause suits always get in the freaking way (how many horror movies have the Weinsteins ruined), they think they know best creatively and worse of all they have the final say. Hey a-holes! Set that ego aside and leave the art to the freaking artists! And if ya want a puppet don't hire a director of Jim Sheridan's caliber! But that's just me. So how was Dream House? Could've been...
Dream House started promisingly enough and kept me in its grasp throughout, so that's something. Not due to its derivative/aimless narrative though. Twist vomited out in the trailer or not, the film's main reveal was see through 20 minutes in. So yes, I kept waiting for the movie to catch up with me (didn't help that we saw the same turn in another flick in 2010 ). If it wasn't Sheridan's low key yet competent directing (loved his use of reflections here), the striking snowy setting/production designs or the polished cinematography (by Caleb Deschanel) keeping me in the game, it was the subdued score and the brilliant performances. Naomi Watts is always welcomed (even in a nothing role like the one she had here) and the little girls in the movie were affable but this was Daniel Craig's and Rachel Weisz's show! Their chemistry here was dazzling (no surprise, they fell in love on the set and got married after the shoot) and without them giving it their all and setting the screen ablaze, I would have tuned out very early on. Craig had moments here that were fairly heart wrenching, I felt for the lad while Weisz, much like in THE FOUNTAIN once again made me feel for and fall in love with her. What a woman!
The film also had a “more ambitious than the norm “penchant for a psychological exploration of the situation as opposed to a horror-ish one. Although not milked to its full potential, when it did happen, them moments hit hard and brought life to the proceedings. Yup there were good ideas on hand and even the familiar twists COULD HAVE worked if the storytelling wasn't so suffocated. It felt like Sheridan wanted to do one thing whilst the Studio wanted to do another. The result of that mortal kombat was a pace that lagged (it felt way longer than its 90 minutes), a story that lacked focus and a mishandled finale that was straight out of a 90's thriller chop-shop! Talk about tacked on!
Now I have seen worse films than Dream House; the talent behind it managed to make it bearable and I was never in agony. But if you're looking for something that will scare you, surprise you and that is competently structured. This isn't it. Should have called it Nightmare Production instead! Sigh...
Not much, light blood and bullet wounds.
T & A
Rachel Weisz is always a sight to behold even when dressed. The ladies and the gay dudes get Craig shirtless, showing off that he hasn't been slumming since the last Bond.
Bummer. Cause for better or for worse, I wanted to see Dream House by Jim Sheridan. Not Dream House by suits getting in Jim Sheridan's way. Dream House had a compelling initial premise and some nifty ideas. Even its familiar elements could have kicked ass if spun the right way. If given the room, MAYBE Sheridan could have given us a more layered psychological type of horror film; sure looked like he was shooting for that. With solid directing/lighting/prod designs and Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz burning the screen in every scene they were in, I had some things to hold on to on this watch. With that, not scary, a see through twist, some pacing issues, a miss handled last block and a schizophrenic nature that echoed the conflicts that arose behind the scenes; Dream House was a let down. See it on DVD if ya have to, or don't see it at all.
Erik Van Looy (the 1999 Shades) was originally set to direct.
Christian Bale and Brad Pitt were considered for the role of Will.
David Loucka (The Dream Team) wrote the screenplay.