Not even the hotness that is Naomi Watts can salvage this dingbat horror rip-off....
Universal / 92 Minutes / 2011 / Unrated / Street Date: January 31, 2012
It's hard to be polite in assessing any merits involved with Dream House because after its twisty ending wraps up, I found myself physically angry at the thing. I understand that no movie - even horror flicks - have to deliver certain goods during their running times, but while viewer manipulation works well when a film has a sure step as to where it's going, when that isn't the case, audiences tend to get pissed off.
And the anemic audiences who showed up to screenings of Dream House last year probably felt this far worse than those who will be suckered into watching it at home on Blu-ray. I mean, this one isn't just a turkey, it's a turkey with a bad Hollywood reputation: Supposedly the set was rife with struggles and violently vocal aesthetic disagreements - it at one point got so bad that director Jim Sheridan threatened to 'Alan Smithee' the thing if certain demands weren't met.
Whether it was Sheridan or Hollywood suits who are to blame, one thing's for sure: Dream House as it stands here is just bad. Any horror connoisseur has seen the one about a mysterious guy (Daniel Craig, here), his lovely wife (Rachel Weisz), and their kids who move into a new home only to find out it has s e c r e t s about a trillion times. When creepy, shadowed fellows start stalking the house and hidden playrooms are discovered (don't forget - there's a twist. Can you guess what it is?), anybody who's seen The Amityville Horror pretty much just goes on auto-pilot.
Naomi Watts is always luminous - she's the neighbor here who helps the haunted family piecemeal together some pretty obvious secrets about the place - but anywhere else you look in Dream House, there's disappointment and potential not met. Theoretically, the film could have been a retro throwback, a campy old-fashioned thriller with echoes of The Shining or even the underrated George C. Scott picture The Changeling. Instead, it's dumb-ass entertainment at its most predictable and unexciting.