DREAM HOUSE, 2011
Stars: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Marton Csokas, Elias Koteas
As Will Atenton (Craig) and his family relocate to a quaint New England town, they soon learn that a mother and her two children were murdered in the same residence. While most everyone thinks the killer is the husband who survived the incident, Will works with a local woman (Watts) to piece together an even more disturbing puzzle.
This is not your average "Scary Movie."
It's always amazing what happens when a fine director like Jim Sheridan (Brothers, In The Name Of The Father) takes on a genre project and immediately transcends it so far you can hardly fetter it with the term "reboot."
Dream House could have been a much lesser film in less capable hands. It's not that the script is lacking but that the standard Hollywood treatment of it could easily have left the viewers nodding their heads in recognition if it had been done as tales of the supernatural usually are.
Sheridan ignores all the conventions. We don't sit in the heads of the adorable children as they see terrifying entities and suffer their parents' lack of belief. Instead, Sheridan puts us in the rational world where things like that just can't be happening - except that they are.
In a film where you have two female protagonists, you might reasonably assume based on experience that one will be a throw-away character, but the script doesn't waste a beat or a personality. And here's where Dream House brings psychological suspense to an even greater height.
You just can't get three finer actors working in concert in the world today than Daniel Craig (Bond), Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts. Craig and Weisz's on-set romance blossomed into marriage, and their on-screen chemistry leaves other movie couples cold and flat. The family scenes between Weisz, Craig, and real-life siblings Claire and Taylor Geare are tender and funny. Watts, as their neighbor, is complex, compelling, and sympathetic.
There are lots of good scares, especially in the film's first half. But unexpectedly, the story goes so much deeper than that. Dream House is more easily compared to Shutter Island or What Lies Beneath than Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. It's more The Others than House on Haunted Hill.
And seldom has a story about a haunting left me in tears, as well as turning my head away from the screen during a particularly tense scene. Don't go just for a thrill; anticipate something far more disturbing, and ultimately far more satisfying as well.
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