Dream House begins innocently enough. Daniel Craig is Will, a book editor who is leaving his job to begin life in his Dream House spending more time with his family and writing a novel.
Will is married to Libby (Rachel Weisz), and the couple has two young girls. Their Dream House is a fixer upper and Weisz has already begun the work when Craig comes home from his last day at work. Their chemistry is electric, which is not always the case with real life couples.
The first signs of fear come from Will’s children, who notice someone gazing into their window at night. Soon after, Will learns there was a gruesome murder in the home and sets in motion a psychological game of Twister that we wish had culminated in an “ah-ha” moment as we experienced in a film of a similar vein, The Others.
Naomi Watts is Anne, a character established as shrouded in mystery. Anne is a neighbor who may hold answers to the questions emerging from Craig’s Dream House. She informs him about the murder and how the patriarch of the family murdered his wife and two young girls.
Soon after, Will investigates the man who is charged with murdering his family, Peter Ward. His inquiry leads him to the mental institution where Ward supposedly lived and had been recently released. It is here that the movie enters a what is real and what’s psychologically construed phase. Unfortunately, this is where Dream House goes off its rails. It’s not that the movie doesn’t know what it wants to be -- an unfolding mystery wrapped in a horror film -- it's just that it simply never reaches its potential and its holes are plenty.
Craig gives a riveting performance, although it is a distraction at times when he slips into his natural U.K. accent which takes away from the film’s central theme: This is a film that is a journey inside the head of Craig’s character. As seen in the Dream House trailer, Will discovers he is Peter Ward. So, what is real? What is construed? Answers are given by the closing credits, but the audience never has anything strong to hold onto that gives credence to the power filmmakers are attempting to achieve.
Libby states, “Something is wrong with this house.” The set-up is all there for a thriller with a top notch pedigree. Between Craig, Weisz and Watts' star wattage and director Jim Sheridan’s stellar resume (In the Name of the Father, My Left Foot, In America), Dream House should have been dreamy. It is anything but.