Film Review: Dream House

 
 

Director: Jim Sheridan

Starring: Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz

Release Date: Out now

Audiences must be starting to notice the trend that Jim Sheridan’s (My Left Foot) movies have taken. His films have descended from good, to decent, to funny bad, to Dream House over the past twenty-two years. By the looks of things, Sheridan just can’t seem to make a good film that isn’t about Ireland or Irish society.

Dream House revolves around Peter Ward (Daniel Craig, Casino Royale) as he tries to reassemble his life, having recently left a mental rehabilitation centre, five years after his wife and children were murdered. Peter moves back into his old, now untenable house, to his neighbours’ bemusement and it is revealed that he has, in his grief, created a fantasy world in which his family remain alive and are living in the titular ‘Dream House’. The plot thereafter consists of Peter coming to realise this falsehood and beginning to piece together his family’s murder in an attempt to find out who killed them.

The first noticeable qualm with Dream House is its scripting. Given that Dream House dedicates far too much time to considering Peter’s sanity, and coupled with a script that gets bogged down in holding the viewer’s hand, one is left to wonder whether it would have been more credible as a short film. Nothing about this film clicks; every individual facet, from the psychologically-based plotline to the impressive cast and suburban gothic sequences sound interesting on paper, but on screen they become a visual mess. The performances from Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) and Craig are wooden and unfocused, despite the fact that they are a married couple in real-life.

The tone and genre of the film is difficult to define. It begins with a horror aesthetic and highly predictable scares, while the second half attempts to be a Kubrick-esque thriller. This film only succeeded in making the other film critics at the screening laugh.

Overall, Dream House will remain a blotch on Jim Sheridan’s filmographic record, due to its apparent lack of structure, emotion and coherent scripting. It is unsurprising to learn that he denied press interviews of any kind following the film. As Sheridan is a UCD Alumnus, many current students may simply forgive him this film, but it is against every fibre of Otwo’s being to do so.

In a Nutshell: Ever wondered why nobody uses the “it was all a dream” plot in Leaving Cert essays? Dream House, that’s why.

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