MOVIE: Dream House (2011)

Okay, so, the good news:  this movie isn’t nearly as bad as its trailer makes it look.  While it’s pretty much every bit as cheeseorama and predictable as it seems, it at least makes a good effort to veer slightly off the usual track at the end, something I appreciated enough to forgive it, a little anyway, for its ridiculous, silly everything-elses.

The story is about a successful big city publication house editor, Will Atenton (Daniel Craig), who has just quit his job and moved his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and two young daughters to a big house in a small town, where he plans to write a book and spend more time being a dad.  Fans of movies like this one know that moving a big city person to a small town neighborhood so they can focus on writing is something that just NEVER goes well for anyone (I can think of a dozen thrillers/horror movies that start out exactly that same way).  You either go crazy (The Shining) or some kind of evil comes and gets you (Straw Dogs and countless others).

It’s not long before the family learns they’ve been duped by their realtor, who failed to inform them that the house was the site of a horrific murder/attempted-suicide just a few years before.  A man killed both his kids and his wife, and then shot himself in the head, surviving the wound just barely, and he’s been in a psychiatric hospital ever since.  The neighbors think the house is cursed and stay away (one previous resident even warns Will that living in the house made him kill his own family. Apparently, he’s been let out of prison because he has terminal cancer, by the way, which:  what?).  But one of them, Ann (Naomi Watts), seems to know more than the others about the murders and makes an effort, albeit a hesitant one, to welcome Will to the neighborhood.

Creeped out but practical, the Atentons decide not to tell their kids about the house’s history (asking Ann’s teenage daughter to watch what she says within ear shot), and plan to make the best of it:  new coats of paint, smooches in the kitchen, the housewarming works.

Until, of course, stranger and stranger things begin to happen.

If you’ve seen the trailer — or any one of the gazillion movies just like this one — you already know Daniel Craig is the murderous father, and his family is simply a manifestation of his traumatized imagination.  (This is not a spoiler, by the way — it’s IN THE TRAILER.)  But as he begins to remember the truth, a twist comes into play that turns the usual arc of these sorts of flicks on its ear.  Is it a brilliant twist?  Nope.  However, it’s not terrible either, and, man, major points to the writer/director for not just lazily riding this out the way I expected them to.

If you’re on the fence about checking this one out, and you have a thing for the naked male form, then I should also tell you there is an unintentionally hilarious moment in this movie where Daniel Craig hears a noise downstairs and gets out of bed to investigate.  As he throws the covers back and rises to his feet, the camera zooms in so closely the only thing you see is his naked torso, all six-packed and chisel-y.  After seeing similar close-ups of his butt in chaps in Cowboys & Aliens (MORE THAN ONE, I should add!), I gotta wonder:  does Daniel Craig know he’s being cast these days more for his body than his acting ability?  Because, really, he’s not much of an actor — he’s pretty much always the same dude, and I confess that dude is sort of getting old for me.  But man, I would — and will — happily continue to shell out nine bucks for a big-screen ticket to more shots like that one.  MROWL.

For most of you, though, I think maybe waiting for DVD would be reasonable.  This little thriller is entertaining enough, but nothing to write home about.  (Hi, Mom!)

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Horror, Thriller
Cast:  Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Marton Csokas, Claire Geare, Taylor Geare, Rachel G. Fox, Elias Koteas

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One Response to “MOVIE: Dream House (2011)”

  1. Amber Says:

    I always think of your recommendation of The Mother. ‘Daniel Craig is either naked or doing carpentry.’

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