Everything changed in 1999 when M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense hit theaters. The film’s twist was so out-of-the-box shocking that it literally trained tens of millions of moviegoers to watch for twists. A decade later, Universal Pictures attempts to transcend this hyper awareness with Dream House, the Jim Sheridan-directed supernatural thriller that stars Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts.
In the film Will Atenton (Craig) moves into a new house with his wife (Weisz) and two daughters (Claire and Taylor Geare). He soon learns that he’s not who he thinks he is and that he may have murdered his family five years earlier.
Penned by David Loucka, Dream House is essentially a best of the ‘90s twist endings remix, jam-packed with idiotic OMFG moments stolen from films like Sixth Sense, Scream , Amityville Horror and even Shutter Island. The product is so incredibly self-aware that the first twist (as ruined in the trailer and TV Spots) happens at the halfway point, turning the second half of the movie into a nearly hour-long epilogue. Imagine if the finale of Sixth Sense was an hour, and instead of briefly summing up the turn of events, Bruce Willis’ character decides he needs to prove to himself that he’s a ghost. I’m not saying Craig’s character is a ghost, I’m just saying… it’s all a bit absurd.
When did Hollywood forget how to entertain us? Dream House is another one of those slow-stepping snoozers that forgets scares, suspense, drama and pacing. The character development is all over the place as the audience can’t quite figure out who’s good and who’s bad, especially with red herrings overly slotted into the film. In fact, the movie ends in such a way that you can question whether or not anything on screen ever actually happened. Could it be, the biggest twist was that it was all a dream?
Dream House is an arrogant, snotty and pretentious piece of work that believes it’s smart, genuine and clever; it takes itself way too seriously, especially with the various “Scooby-Doo” endings (the best is when Craig’s character learns that his fake name, Will Atenton, was conjured up by his patient number W11 81010 – no joke) . There’s not a lick of fun to be had, and if anything, the oddly upbeat score diminishes any tension that could have been worked into this overly complex mess of film. Simple is always better. Simple and FUN is even better than that.
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