Sunday, 27 November 2011



There are quite a few things you have to ensure when making a twisty psychological thriller with a supernatural angle. It's not just the performances and production values are up to an acceptable standard, nor that there any any great gaping holes in the narrative or moments when you cheat on your own rules. What's most important is that the audience isn't at least three reels ahead of you. In these post-Sixth Sense days, we know there's going to be a twist and you have to work damned hard to hide it or disguise it - but this new chiller barely bothers to try and as a result the Big Reveal isn't accompanied by a dropped jaw and a gasp of "Blimey!", rather a smug smirk of "Thought so" (or a shrug of "congratulations on catching up, I was here an hour ago"). Admittedly there are a couple of other reveals - one of which doesn't make any sense - but the main plot development is so dazzlingly, blindingly obvious that spotting it is the intellectual equivalent of completing a four-piece jigsaw.

At the start of Dream House, Daniel Craig is a top editor for a major publisher who quits his job to slob about in his new house with wife Rachel Weisz and their two adorable little daughters, and write a novel. But there seems to be someone lurking around outside, the neighbour across the road (Naomi Watts) is initially unfriendly, and a group of local teens are sneaking into his basement because the previous occupants were brutally murdered: apparently the husband shot his wife and two daughters, and was put into a psychiatric hospital. But what really happened that night? Might someone else have committed the crimes? And why?

If you haven't figured out the Big Reveal now (and you haven't seen the trailer, which supposedly gives away everything short of a free pizza and Daniel Craig's phone number), it's really not difficult: exactly how many people interact with Rachel Weisz's character? Figure that out and you're there, leaving the film puffing laboriously on behind. Shyamalan's hide-in-plain-sight trick disguised the character interactions quite neatly but we're wise to the concept now, and Dream House makes no attempt to camouflage the blatantly obvious. The result is a bland, competent but thoroughly uninteresting film with no surprises and no scares (apart from once nicely timed Boo! moment); not just a horror film for people who don't usually watch horror films, but a horror film apparently made by people who've never watched a horror film and don't really know how.


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