At first glance, Dream House appears like your run-of-the-mill haunted house movie. A young couple moves into a new house, spooky stuff happens, yada yada yada, you know the rest. But while Dream House is not a particularly good horror film (in some ways it’s not even a proper horror), I do have to say that it is different to what you would ordinarily expect from a movie of this kind.
Daniel Craig is Will Atenton, a successful book publisher who leaves his profession to move from New York to New England with his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and his two little girls. Everything is fine until weird stuff starts happening and Will starts to believe that their dream house has a past that will come back to haunt them. Someone who knows more than they are letting on is their neighbour, played by Naomi Watts.
Up until this point it’s all pretty cookie-cutter stuff, but Dream House breaks away from the expected trajectory by throwing a curve ball midway through. It’s not an unexpected twist, but the timing of the twist is curious as it’s usually reserved for the final act.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really do a whole lot for the film, which is, for the most part, plodding and lacking in both scares or thrills. It takes the wind out of the sails too early and shifts the focus to melodrama, which simply doesn’t work without the character foundations required. I guess the only benefit is that it keeps you interested in how they are going to fill up the remainder of the 92-minute running time.
I really wanted to like Dream House because I’m a fan of the genre and all three leads (in fact, it’s where Craig and Weisz fell in love and ended up getting married — which explains their solid chemistry), and despite not expecting very much out of it I still came away disappointed by the stale pace and dearth of scares. The negatives could have been somewhat mitigated had the drama been more moving but it failed in that regard too. Strangely, the film has a pretty awesome soundtrack, but when that’s the most redeeming thing about a film you know it can’t be good.
2 stars out of 5