By Rachel Ambelang
“Dream House” was an interesting twist on the old idea of “it’s all in the protagonist’s head.” Several films have played with this idea and come up with varying versions, most recently “Black Swan,” but “Dream House” is set apart from all of these films by the order of its story line.
Instead of having the main character’s false world revealed to him and the audience as the big ending, “Dream House” divulges the main character’s insanity from the very beginning.
Will Atenton (played by Daniel Craig, who is best known as the most recent James Bond) has just quit his job in order to stay at home with his wife (played by Rachel Weisz) and his two young daughters.
The family has high hopes for a picket-fence lifestyle, until they find out the people who lived in the house before them were all murdered. As if that were not enough, the man believed guilty of the slaughter was recently set free from the city’s mental institution, and Atenton believes he has been watching his family from outside the home.
When Atenton goes to the institution in order to find out more about the suspect, the doctor reveals to Atenton that he himself is the accused murderer and was released the week before simply because the police did not have sufficient evidence to keep him at the institution any longer.
Now Atenton not only has to face the fact that what he believes is his family is really just a figment of his imagination, but also has to answer the question of whether or not he was the one who killed them.
I was intrigued by this story when I first saw the trailer because I felt it was a version of this theme that had not been done before and, as a fan of horror movies, I believed it had the potential to be a really good film. Unfortunately, I left fairly disappointed.
The storyline flowed pretty well for the first two-thirds of the movie, and besides some distractingly awkward acting by minor characters, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz held up the narrative rather well.
The ending, however, which is the only part anyone ever remembers, was underwhelming in a way that at first, you cannot really understand why you did not like it but is ultimately unsatisfying.
My reasoning is that it was extremely abrupt and left me feeling that, although it made sense, the ending was almost too convenient. More than one quick fix plot point made it seem as though everyone came up with the sequence on the last day of shooting.
I assume that the writer and/or director was going for a surprising ending, but what they got was a story that begged for a little more thought and development. The ending, despite the interesting idea and good performances, ruined the movie’s potential to really be great.