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DREAM HOUSE

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Movies E.C. McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
Dream House
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DREAM HOUSE - 2011
Cliffjack Motion Pictures / Morgan Creek Productions
Ratings: USA: Rated PG-13

Morgan Creek Productions. Since 2000, they have brought us such box office titans as BATTLEFIELD EARTH, EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, and THE THING [2011]. And that's just their Horror Thriller.

Director Jim Sheridan is known for making deeply moving movies whenever he works with actor Daniel-Day Lewis. Unfortunately, he hasn't worked with Lewis since 1997 and his career path has been on the downward slide ever since.

Writer David DeLouca is known for never having penned or even co-penned a hit theatrical movie (not even a modest hit) in a career that spans back to 1989. Cool that he has a career anyway.

So Producers Daniel Bobker (THE SKELETON KEY, THE BROTHERS GRIMM), Ehren Kruger (BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE, SCREAM 4), David C. Robinson (EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING), and James G. Robinson (THE EXORCIST III, NIGHTBREED, EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING), pooling their talent for making box office Horror hits, hired a director and writer not known for making Horror, Thriller, Mystery, or Suspense, and had them make DREAM HOUSE.

What I came away with as the end credits rolled is that DREAM HOUSE, while advertised and marketed as Horror, Thriller, Mystery, and Suspense movie, was barely a brush against any of them.

Will Atenton (Craig Daniels: RENAISSANCE, INVASION, COWBOYS AND ALIENS) is a book editor who is quitting his high position job at a seemingly high-toned publisher, in order to spend more time with his family. While living his new life, he will also write a book. He treats his departure like a victory: he wins time with his family.

Dream House knob

As he rides the commuter train back to his house, savoring the start of his new life, a creepy guy (Elias Koteas: THE PROPHECY, APT PUPIL, THE FOURTH KIND, SHUTTER ISLAND) smiles at him, gets close enough to invade his personal space, and Will walks away losing a little sense of his victory.

It's night when Will gets home and his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz: DEATH MACHINE, THE MUMMY [1999], THE MUMMY RETURNS) and their two daughters are there to greet him. It seems like the wonderful start of a perfect idyll. If only it wasn't for some creepy guy at night who watches them from their own backyard. And the way this is set up - gee! Who COULD the creepy guy be?

Still, everything is so warm and cozy in the house you could pour a wole bottle of syrup on it and you still wouldn't notice the difference - everything is just that sweet. There is a moment when the girls go missing, but the resolution to that is sweet as well. It's like a dream life (get it?).

So when Will finds his dream life getting interrupted by pranksters, teenagers, and people who act like they know him and he did something wrong, he goes to the police: Who are about as helpful as an Eagle Rock cop * (*local California thing. If you live in an area that has incompetent cops or worse - like say Fullerton or Riverside, go ahead and substitute them). At one point he happens to overhear the troubles his neighbor, Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts: THE SHAFT, MULHOLLAND DR., THE RING, THE RING TWO, KING KONG [2005]) across the street has with her ex. Her clearly sadistic ex, Jack (Marton Csokas: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING, ALICE IN WONDERLAND [2010]) is moody, broody, and delights in making his wife suffer. He also gives a evil stare at Will as he drives past.

When the turning point of the second act begins, everyone should have already figured out the end even if they hadn't seen the stupidly spoiler trailers which gave away everything but the last ten minutes.

The mystery is blown right out of the water in the first act, and because Will's investigation is practically nill, the movie must rely on a tedious flashback exposition scene to bring us all up to speed. Not that you won't be way ahead of the movie by that time. With the abscence of the mystery, the suspense is gone as well because we know the damage is done, so all that's left is the unveiling. There are so many scenes that would have been perfect for scary Horror but despite being packaged and sold to audiences that way, director Jim Sheridan doesn't even try.

And oh yeah, the Thrill is gone.

I guess what I find most curious about this movie is that actors Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz have been talking these last few years like actors who want to improve their game (Rachel refused to repeat her character in third THE MUMMY movie to perform in something a little less craptastic.). Is it really possible that DREAM HOUSE looked that good on paper?

Two Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2011 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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