Monday, March 14, 2016

Dream House – As Bad As I Remembered

Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: September 30, 2011
Rating: PG-13
Director: Jim Sheridan

Will and Libby decide to buy a house in the country and move with their two girls to get away from life in the big city. Though things initially go well, as they always do in these kinds of films, it doesn't take long before weird things begin happening. His daughters hear a story that someone was killed in their home, and it's coming up on the anniversary of that tragedy too. It doesn't help that people in town all keep acting a little funny around him, especially his divorced neighbor Ann.

Will eventually learns that a man named Peter Ward once lived in their home. After a fight with his wife, he shot their children. His wife managed to shoot him before dying of her own gunshot wound. This leads Will on a chase where he discovers that Peter was never charged because he had no memories of the night but was committed to a psychiatric ward. The closer he gets to uncovering the mystery of what happened that night and what's going on in his home, the more he learns that some things should remain hidden.

I originally saw Dream House when it first landed on DVD and wasn't a big fan. While going through my Netflix list the other night, I noticed that I added it and decided to just give it another try. I'm not above watching a horror film more than once, especially if I didn't like it the first time. That's part of why I became a fan of Insidious long after everyone else decided they hated it again. Sadly, Dream House is just as bad the second time around.

Dream House plays like one of those classic Victorian horror movies. You half expect to see it take place in some gorgeous mansion with the kids wearing long dresses and fog rolling across the moors. It moves the setting to a typical suburb, which seems like an attempt to make you realize that this kind of thing could happen anywhere. All it does is make me wonder why it took so long for people to actually notice Will was there.

If you never watched Dream House before or can't figure out the “spoiler” based on my short plot description, then feel free to skip this review. It turns out that Will is actually Peter, which he only learns after visiting the head doctor at the institute. The doctor reveals that he spent the last five years in treatment, can't remember what happened that night, and created an alternate personality to deal with his “guilt” and/or grief. He then walks away from a halfway house where he was staying, went back to his former home, and started thinking the ghosts of his wife and kids were real.

Here's the thing though, if you thought your neighbor murdered his whole family and then saw him coming in and out of the house all the time, wouldn't you do something about it? Ann's excuse is that they knew each other for a long time and just wanted to be his friend. It later turns out the house was condemned and he gets tossed out again. There's also a whole subplot about Ann's ex-husband and how he hired someone to kill her but the man screwed up and murdered the wrong family, so it turns out that Will/Peter was innocent all along. By the time it gets to its final unrealistic scene of him having wrote a best selling book about his experiences in the house, I just didn't care anymore. Dream House is far from a dream horror movie.

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