Blick Tolkien reviews Dream House

Dream House 84 min., 2011
Written by David Loucka
Directed by Jim Sheridan
Language: English
My rating: ★★★★

No, Mr. Bond, I want them to die.

* * *

I can say the film is suspenseful with a good air of mystery in its beginnings and the pacing, for the most part, seemed to be done well. The use of lighting, scenery, and a lot of the locations were enough to make the atmosphere thick and lush without being overbearing. The score is top notch as well and the music they have chosen evokes a lot of feelings both good and bad. All that having been said, I shouldn’t get the feeling that this movie is somehow imperfect but I do, and you may also.

All the lengths they seem to have gone through to make the location feel like a character in this story all on its own seemed to have worked exceptionally well. The only drawback to this is the location and scenery tended to have more of a presence and consistency in the beginning act than any of our big name thespians. If you want to start talking plot in the genesis of this particular film’s storyline, we have to go back a little further and start with Will leaving his job.

Will, played by Daniel Craig, the most recent incarnation of 007, is a husband and father of 2 young girls. To start with, his performance isn’t lacking in the least. However, his accent being poorly done and seeming to jump from thick New Yorker to someone from Boston to a mixture of English and Scottish, I couldn’t tell where he began and the United Nations ends. You couple that with his wife Libby, played by Rachel Weisz, who seems to have the loving mother devoted wife thing down, however, she also seems so emotionally fragile that she might have a bipolar outburst at any moment if you aren’t too careful. Naomi Watts plays Ann Patterson who is Will’s neighbor which in my opinion seems like they were just tossing in a big name to fill a small role since she really doesn’t appear to do much. The bulk of her role isn’t much more than her looking creeped out by Will and casting sidelong glances at her ex-husband and her daughter. Her and Will seem to have some very weird onscreen interactions at the beginning of the film which just makes her presence seem even more unnecessary since her character doesn’t seem to further the plot in any apparent way.

Hopefully, if you can bare with me as I may bounce around a bit like a jackrabbit on methamphetamines, I swear I will get around to covering this whole seemingly convoluted story line. So Will, bad accent and all, seems to have quit his job to be at home full time with his wife, daughters, and his dream house which they are trying to restore to its former glory. At some point, Will is awakened in the middle of the night by sounds in the basement to find it filled with a group of Goth/emo kids burning candles and staging some kind of murder scene. This information comes on the heels of one of his daughters telling him she’s seen someone standing outside their property in the middle of the night looking into the house. He was more than willing to blow it off until this thing with the Satan worshiping kids which sort of forces him to investigate and seek help from the local authorities. Of course, they are no help and using his own completely amateur investigative skills he finds film reels in the house documenting the killings as well as the name of the man who killed his own wife and kids as well as his location.

With all this strangeness laid bare, it finally appears that we have a murder mystery on our hands. His wife still seems relatively aloof and his digging keeps drawing him closer to who this mystery guy is until he tracks him down to the psych facility in which he was committed. After finding photos of his family in this guy’s room, he is positive that this is the one stalking his humble home. The spoiler alert here comes in the form of Will hearing from the doctor that his real name is Peter Ward, that he is the suspected murderer, and that his family is actually dead. He goes to confront his wife and children and they confirm these outlandish claims. Whether he is actually seeing ghosts or is certifiably nuts and is experiencing some visual and auditory hallucinations isn’t really clear but in either case they’re dead and he doesn’t know whether or not he done it. It turns out the recently divorced next door neighbor and her daughter had both known that Will was actually Peter this whole time. The only reason they didn’t want to say anything was because was a fear on how he would take the news and underlying fear that is may set back the progress he may have made with therapy.

As many problems as I thought this movie had at its beginning, it’s actually a pretty awesome film. Somewhere in the second act, Craig settles into his accent, and near the end of the second act the neighbor’s role becomes clear both in his life and in the plot. One of my only complaints that still wasn’t resolved by the end of the film was the constant plot twists. The movie seemed to start out being a story about a guy giving up his career for his family then it transitioned into the mystery of who is stalking his family. It changes yet again when he finds out people were murdered in his house into a whodunit. After that, they go all Sixth Sense where he is talking to dead people. And if that wasn’t enough, they go all Jason Bourne and is trying to found out who he is and if he is the killer. Sadly enough there are two more plot twists that end the film which I won’t go into. I can only assume this is in an effort to keep you guessing right up until the end but instead it turns out to have the same effect as a fat man in Hawaiian shirt with plaid shorts, checkered socks, and a hat with flashing lights putting on a paisley tie. It’s all too busy to keep your attention on one thing for a few seconds let alone figure it out. I’d say if not for all the plot jumping this film could have gotten a 4 star from me with no problem. I do recommend it highly. My only suggestion is that you watch it with a little patience and you go into the film as a spectator rather than trying to define what the film is or guess the ending. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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About Zeb Carter

About Blick Tolkien: The bastard half brother of Zeb Carter, he grew up in Chicago's urban jungle, forced to be the victim of racial injustice and daily bullying until the day he saw Night of the Living Dead. the immersion into violence on film gave him the tools to externalize his hate and make the world a horror show for all his enemies. A card carrying member of the Black Panther party, he hates whitey and all forms of coonery including any and all Tyler Perry films. You have been warned. About Zeb Carter: The younger brother of Blick Tolkien, he used horror films as a way to open him self up to the social and story telling aspects of cinematic fear as well as his love of the silver screen. After seeing Gremlins at the drive in he was hooked. He also writes short fiction, has 2 daughters and a pack of animals that he is currently serves as the alpha male over. You can read his fiction at forums.drabblecast.org.
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