When a studio dumps a horror movie, or any movie, it usually comes after some tinkering. Sometimes things don’t come out the way they were expected, and they try to fix what they can, or make it a harder or softer cut to make it more marketable. With 2011’s Dream House, one expects a terrible movie that was butchered or messed with in such a way that the release version seems a shred of the former movie. The weirdest thing about the film is that it feels like they made the movie they set out to make. Sure, it didn’t turn out well, but at least it’s a complete thought. Jim Sheridan directs Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz in the story of a haunted family that seems like a decade-late riff on The Sixth Sense. Our review of the Dream House Blu-ray follows after jump.
Craig stars as Will Atenton who starts the film leaving his job permanently to write from home. He’s got a loving wife in Libby (Weisz) and two adorable moppet daughters. They’re just setting up the home, so there’s painting going on, but it seems that the neighbors look at him funny, and there’s something odd going on. Neighborhood teenagers have been breaking into his basement to hold séances and hang out, and it appears there were murders in the house. His kids see things in their backyard. Spooky.
His next door neighbor Ann (Watts) is nice but tenuous with him, and it may be because she and her ex-husband (Marton Csokas) don’t get along. Will looks to investigate the killer, but the further he looks, the more it’s pointed out that he already knows what happened in the house.
Though the trailer revealed one of the big spoilers of the movie, since the film didn’t do that well, it’s possible people don’t know the big reveal going in. For those who’ve seen these sorts of movies before, the reveal is obvious because these films make you notice all sorts of other familiar tricks of the genre to create a misdirect. But that reveal is probably the most interesting thing about the movie, as it then changes a characters appearance (in a ridiculous way) but then paints a portrait of psychosis where the film becomes then about how much someone will deny the truth to themselves to create an alternate universe. That was where the film achieves any sort of power, and it’s utterly ruined by the marketing. Alas, the resolution is the sort that explains everything in a way that then drains out all of the things that make that interesting. It’s a soft movie.
The question then is: how did so many talented people make such nonsense? The film is handsomely shot, and there are a couple good ideas here and there, but it could be one of those things that read better on the page. A number of films work like that, where if you can’t see the performances then maybe some of the big reveals are more exciting, but on screen it’s just dead. Handsomely shot deadness.
Universal’s Blu-ray of Dream House comes with the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. The film was shot by Caleb Deschanel and looks great, much better than the standard horror pic. Also included is a DVD and digital copy. The film’s theatrical trailer is included (which is – strangely – a rarer supplement than you would expect) and four featurettes: “Burning Down the House” (4 min.) gets into the pyro effects in the movie, while “The Dream Cast” (6 min.) gets the cast in for EPK interviews. “Building the Dream House” (4 min.) goes into the production design, while “A Look Inside” (2 min.) plays like an interview laden trailer.