Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dream House (2011)


So Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) decides to quit his high paying job as a publisher in New York City. He wants to write a novel, and he wants to spend more time with his family, so he returns home. At first, Will enjoys the happy reunion with his daughters, Dee Dee (Claire Geare) and Trish (Taylor Geare), and his wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz). But an unknown stalker and a weird séance ritual orchestrated by teenagers disrupt the peaceful environment. Will wants some answers, so he talks to the neighbor across the street. Ann (Naomi Watts) doesn’t want to tell Will everything, but Will eventually uncovers the truth: three brutal and viscous murders took place in Will’s house five years ago. But who was the main suspect? Will does some investigating, and all of his questions lead him to an insane asylum. Peter Ward was responsible for the family murders, but Will learns another devastating “secret”, when he visit’s the asylum…..he is Peter Ward, and he is known as the man, who murdered his entire family. Will Atenton is a fake identity he created during his time at the asylum, because Peter didn’t want to live with the guilt of killing his own family. He wanted a new life and a fresh start, and this was the only way to escape.

**End spoilers**

You know something, this could’ve been a great plot twist and surprise, but they actually gave this away in the trailer. That’s right. The film’s main plot twist is revealed in the trailer, so everyone who watched the trailer already knows what’s coming, when Craig’s character visits the asylum. This is such a letdown, but this event occurred halfway through the film, so I thought Dream House might have another chance at redemption as time progressed. Well, I was wrong.
Will eventually begins to accept himself as Peter Ward, but he still misses his two daughters and his wife. They’re dead, but Peter doesn’t want to move on, and he actually tries to live in the abandoned house, where the murders happened. Ann tries to help, but she can’t save Peter. Towards the end of the film, Will and Ann are attacked and captured by Jack (Marton Csokas) and Boyce ( Elias Koteas). Jack is Ann’s ex-husband, and he hired Boyce as a hitman, because he wanted Boyce to kill his wife. Jack and Ann went through a pretty rough and nasty divorce. Ann got the house, a good amount of money, and Jack’s request for full custody of their daughter, Chloe (Rachel G. Fox) seems doubtful. Jack loathes Ann, so he decided to put a hit out on her. Boyce was supposed to kill Ann, but he made one huge mistake…..Boyce went to the wrong house. Boyce entered Peter Ward’s house, he was armed with a gun, and he shot and killed Ward’s wife and daughters. Peter is innocent, but Jack wants another shot at killing his wife, and Ward would be the perfect scapegoat. Jack doesn’t want to take another chance of something going wrong, so he shots Boyce. But Peter manages to escape his burning house, and he rescues Ann. Boyce traps Jack in the burning house, as he pours gasoline down a stairway, and both men die inside the fire. Peter escapes with some memorabilia (a photo album, which includes drawings from his daughters), he finally has some inner peace, and the fire eventually destroys the “dream house.” Peter wasn’t responsible for the murders, but this big surprise didn’t do anything for me. Dream House had already bored me to death, and nothing could save this film.

A simplistic ghost story would’ve been fine here, but this film tries way too hard, and the attempted crafty and smart screenplay doesn’t work, because this story can feel so confusing most of the time. For example, towards the end of the film, Craig’s character catches this weird flu. Libby freaks out, because the children have caught Peter’s “flu.” But the fatal gunshot wounds that killed the children began to appear on their body, and Ward’s daughters eventually die. Weisz’s character snaps, because Will doesn’t want to help their sick children. Ward tries to explain the bizarre situation, but Libby won’t accept his explanation, because she thinks Peter has lost his mind.

Ummm, yeah, this is one of the many scenarios that made me scratch my head. The argument between the dead wife and the living husband felt so bizarre, and I couldn’t buy into it. I get it. Craig’s character is grieving. He isn’t ready to move on, and he can’t let go of the past. Ward invents this fantasy world, where his daughters and Libby are still alive, and everything is still normal. Losing your family would be an unbelievable shock, and the deaths drove Craig’s character into a deep depression. But Dream House blurs the line between reality and fantasy too often, and I was very confused at times, because I couldn’t tell the difference between the fantasy world and the real world. Dream House actually features scenes, where Ward is talking to his dead wife on a cell phone, and he is surrounded by living people, when he does this! Peter has numerous conversations with his dead wife. Libby KNOWS what happened during that one tragic night. She knows Peter is innocent, so why didn’t she just tell him the truth in the beginning? Libby doesn’t give her living husband any clues about what really happened on the night of the murders, but she could’ve helped her husband solve the mystery, so why didn’t she? This film tries to trick the audience, but the smart story is an epic fail, and some of the twist and turns really didn’t make any sense. Also, Dream House doesn’t provide any real scares, and the trailer gives away some of the good spook moments.
**End spoilers**

Dream House tries to be this complex thriller film that makes you think, but they abandon the smart story towards the end. This film just goes through the motions, and I could see everything coming. The element of surprise was dead towards the end, and the unbelievable slow pace made everything a lot worse.

In the end, Dream House is a very, very boring film that doesn’t provide any real suspense or thrills. Dream House takes itself too seriously, and this isn’t a smart movie. Although, I will give this film credit, when it comes to the acting. Daniel Craig, Marton Csokas, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts did deliver some fine perfomacnes, and Rachel G. Fox wasn’t bad at all, but the good acting couldn’t save this one. Dream House had some promise at first, but the story turns into one giant mess as time goes on, and the ending is so obvious. I have one little bit of advice if you want to take a chance on this film…DO NOT WATCH THE TRAILER. The trailer gives away so much, and you will not be able to enjoy this film, if you watch it. Then again, the painful boredom doesn’t help anything, so it might not make a difference.

Final Rating: 2/10

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