MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on Movies: Dream House


Dream House (Two Stars)

U.S.: Jim Sheridan, 2011

 In Dream House, an almost mystifying misfire of a would-be classy, smart horror movie, Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton, a New York City publishing house editor who quits his job and moves out of the city — with his angelic wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and their two adorable daughters Trish and Dee Dee (Taylor and Claire Geare, of Inception) — to write a novel in the rustic comfort of homey, small town New England. Soon enough, however, Will learns that the dream house he purchased, which initisally almost suggested something Thomas Kinkade might paint — a homey old-fashioned dwelling with glowing-gold windows — is more of a nightmare. Somebody murdered three people there, a mother and two children, and whoever it was, may be lurking around again.

 Since the movie is set in New England, you might even expect the novelist to look or act a bit like New Englander Stephen King — though Daniel Craig (007) has a wounded but literate mug that’s right for this character, just as Weisz and the Geare girls are right for his family. But instead, it’s the movie that gives you déjà vu. The plot resembles, in many ways, King’s best book, The Shining, with a touch of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island as well. Both those novels were turned into excellent movies — though (I hate to say this) Stanley Kubrick‘s brilliantly directed film version of The Shining is less effective than the novel and has a big script flaw. (Jack goes crazy way too soon.)

 Dream House is an original by David Loucka (The Dream Team) and it simply, deceptively, has the look of a classy novel-derived picture, as well as a classy cast: the four above plus Naomi Watts as Ann Patterson, the woman next door, Martin Csokas as her angry ex-husband, Elias Koteas as a sinister kibitzer, and Jane Alexander as a compassionate psychiatrist.

 That fine Irish Director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, The Field) and the sometimes great cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (The Black Stallion, The Right Stuff) are the pair that make this move look good — scary and plush. The script though — and what a critical cliché this is these days — makes the movie a shallow, unconvincing, faintly obnoxious time-waster — unless the culprits are he people who took the movie out of Sheridan‘s hands and re-edited it. That script lacks everything it might need to compete with its models — or even to compete with The Amityville Horror. It has indifferent dialogue (its biggest flaw), shallow characters, and telegraphed plot twists.

I don’t want to bother with any spoiler alerts (though one of them should reportedly be tacked onto this movie‘s trailer). But the basic situation of Dream House makes no sense (even on its own genre terms,), the ending is annoyingly off he wall, and the ending after the ending is even worse. Probably the only way to get scared watching it is to bring a Stephen King novel into the theater and read it by flashlight.

 Sheridan, who might consider making a film or two back in Ireland, is a top director, a good storyteller who’s excellent with actors and who really should be working with better material than this. That’s a critical cliché too, I guess. But how do you think it got to be a cliché?

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.


awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon