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DREAM HOUSE **
Directed by Jim Sheridan. Starring Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz, Elias Koteas, Marton Csokas. Mystery/thriller, US, 92 mins, cert 15.
Released in the UK by Warner Brothers on the 25th November.
Will Atenton (Craig) is a successful publishing executive who resigns his city job to move to the suburbs with his wife (Weisz) and daughters to write the novel he has been planning. Once the family moves into their new “dream house” a number of disquieting events occur. Will’s daughters claim to see a figure peering in the windows, the next day he discovers footprints in the snow outside the house. Will disturbs a group of teenage goths conducting some kind of satanic cult rite/seance in his basement. The neighbour’s daughter is overheard talking about how the previous occupants were murdered. What on earth could be going on? Why are the local police taking Will’s complaints so lightly? Why does Will’s neighbour (Watts) act so strangely around him? Could it be that the killer of the previous family has returned?
DREAM HOUSE is slightly reminiscent of some of the dafter suspense films Brian De Palma made in the eighties, films like BODY DOUBLE and RAISING CAIN. De Palma could take cheesy material and turn it into something watchable through hilarious excesses of technique (watch the totally mad underpass sequence in BODY DOUBLE for an example). Jim Sheridan is completely different sort of director, a solid craftsman good with character-based dramas, he seems totally at sea here. It’s all very competently put together, but neither the increasingly convoluted and silly plot nor the characters are remotely convincing. Craig and Weisz, now a real-life couple, ironically have no on screen chemistry at all. There is a terrible music score which moves from schmaltz in early happy family scenes, to generic horror stings when the thriller kicks in. There is also an early and apparently random appearance by the fantastic Canadian actor Elias Koteas (you will recognise him from THE PROPHECY and Cronenberg’s CRASH). Any genre fan will know, that there is no such thing as a random appearance by Koteas, he might as well have a flashing sign on his forehead reading “will be menacing you later”.
Director Jim Sheridan battled with production company Morgan Creek and had the film taken away from him. So unhappy was he with the release version that he unsuccessfully attempted to have his credit removed. Equally unhappy, stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz refused to do any promotion. The film was dumped in US cinemas without being press screened and sank without a trace. In truth, while there are clear signs that this film has been tampered with in the edit suite - the final 30 mins in particular are a complete mess - there are few signs that this could ever have been anything other than a mediocre thriller.
A final word of warning, if I have failed to convince you that there is nothing here worth your time, and you are thinking about seeing this. Avoid the film’s trailer. This so comprehensively spoils the films’ plot that if you have seen it there is absolutely no point shelling out your hard earned cash.
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GORE ON THE SCREEN
REVIEWS BY FANS FOR FANS
5 STAR FAB - 1 STAR RUBBISH