Don't expect a remake of the 1948 comedy classic "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" when you see the current "Dream House" (Universal). While this film does feature a happy family and a real fixer-upper, the comparisons end there.
Director Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot," "Brothers") offers a traditional Gothic horror feature as well as a clever psychological thriller that will have you wondering what's real and what's make-believe. But the level of gory mayhem that accompanies his storytelling severely restricts the movie's appropriate audience.
Instead of Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, we have Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. They portray Will and Libby Atenton, who have ditched the big city for the pastoral calm of Connecticut and the perfect house in which to raise their two small daughters.
Trouble is, there's precious little peace and quiet. It's the dead of winter, the wind is howling, and the old house makes a lot of strange, scary noises. The neighbors are nosy and suspicious—in particular, Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts), who lives across the road.
Everyone's whispering about what happened in that house five years ago. The Atentons' 5-year-old daughter repeats what she's overheard: "Everyone who lives in this house gets killed."
And how: The real estate agent neglected to tell the Atentons about the previous owner, Peter Ward, who gunned down his wife and two daughters in cold blood.
Will seeks answers to what really happened, and heads for the local psychiatric institution. There he learns that Peter Ward has just been released—and that he looks an awful lot like Will.
The line between reality and the world of dreams blurs intriguingly as "Dream House" barrels along to a fiery conclusion.
The film contains scenes of bloody violence and terror, brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, and some profanity. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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