Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw Reviews Dream House

Dream House is a hard movie to review – or even describe – without revealing too many twists and turns of the plot. The film stars Daniel Craig (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) as a writer who settles into a quaint home with his wife (Rachel Weisz) and two daughters, only to learn that their house was the scene of a horrific crime. When strange things start going bump in the night, the husband starts to uncover a connection to the tragic murders – but only the pretty neighbor (Naomi Watts) seems to know what’s going on for sure.

Dream House was directed by Jim Sheridan, the man behind such great films as My Left Foot and The Boxer, as well as so-so films like Brothers and Get Rich or Die Trying. Sheridan is a skilled director (even when he’s working with half-baked material) so technically speaking, Dream House is visually sound and richly textured in its disparity between the warm hues and glows of a family home, full of love, and the harsh, blue-tinted, snow-ridden world outside that home – or, at times, the grit and grime of homes that have been overrun with rot and despair.

The other strength of the film is its cast. Craig, Weisz and Watts are all skilled actors and keep a lot of the more ridiculous aspects of the story (more on that later) grounded in believable performances. Craig – often stone-faced and grim – displays some warmth and smiles in his role as a loving father, though he gets ample time to stone-face it as well. Weisz is good as a free-spirited wife and mother; she makes her character stand out as a unique and fully-formed person, while Watts is given a harder task, playing a pivotal character that has to be balanced just right to be believable at all. Watts almost pulls of that balancing act, but not quite. Guys like Elias Koteas and Marton Csokas are great character actors – though they’re given little to work with here.

Naomi Watts in 'Dream House'

What knocks Dream House – a movie which has so much potential on paper – right off the rails is the script by David Loucka, the writer of not-so-great films like Eddie, The Dream Team, and Borderline. Dream House is a story that seems like a cool idea in theory, but doesn’t quite work when put onscreen. It’s highly derivative of other films (two in particular – scroll down for that mild spoiler) and ultimately gets lost in its own ambitions – which pretty much amount to throwing several “twists” into the story that are meant to be shocking or clever when they’re really just clichéd, confusing and often obvious.

This is also a film that changes gears very drastically in its 1st, 2nd, and 3rd acts, and subsequently feels disjointed and episodic, rather than organic and cohesive. There are also a truckload of logical flaws, and plot holes so wide they are nearly impossible not to fall into. On the whole, the poor script reduces Dream House to a movie that is hard to get into – and stay into – despite the talented actors and director working to keep it grounded and engaging.

[MILD SPOILERS BELOW]

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Basically, the film is a mashup of plot elements “borrowed” from both Fight Club and Ghost, but the mix results in something that is far less sensible or believable. A lot of the themes about memory and family (and the power of that loving bond) are very powerful and resonant ones, so its a shame they get diminished by all the chaos and confusion of the patchwork plot.

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[END SPOILERS]

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz in 'Dream House'

Sometimes an idea just falls flat. There’s no harm in the trying. Certain viewers may watch Dream House and be thrilled by the shifting, uncertain nature of its plot (if they can avoid scrutinizing it and simply brush off the gaping holes). As stated, the film is well-constructed and well-acted, so it’s not a total nightmare. However, like the strangest of dreams, watching this movie will  leave you feeling muddled and somewhat upset about the experience.

[NOTE: Usually we post the trailers for films at the end of a review, but the trailer for Dream House contained BIG SPOILERS about the twists of the plot. WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK.]

If you want to discuss the SPOILERS of the film without ruining the movie for others – Please hop on over to our Dream House Spoilers post.

Dream House is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Our Rating:


2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)