Director Jim Sheridan’s Dream House is not what it’s perceived to be at first glance – a ghostly horror film that will make you jump out of your skin. Though Dream House can still be classified as somewhat of a horror piece, instead of being ruled by ghosts it’s at the hand of the living that our protagonist suffers.
The story begins with a family moving away from their home in New York City, where successful publisher Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quit his job to relocate his wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz) and their two girls, to start their new life in a quaint New England town. The audience is led to believe this family’s new life in their perfect home is all real, but as we later find out in an unforeseen plot twist that will hit the viewer out of nowhere – nothing is as it seems.
Peter Ward (Craig) is a mental patient who recently left a psychiatric hospital and then a halfway house, and is living in his own made-up world where everything is the way it was meant to be in his mind. In reality, his wife Elizabeth (Libby is her name in this created world of his) and daughters Beatrice and Katherine were all murdered in their home.
During the home invasion Peter was shot in the head and as a result of his injury doesn’t remember what really happened. Instead, he believes that his family is alive and happy living in their new home – something the audience is led to believe is real from the moment the film begins.
The entire town believes he killed his own family, for reasons no one knows. When Will starts investigating the tragedy that happened in his home, which he thinks happened to the previous family who lived there, his only lead comes from a neighbour who was close to the family that died, Ann Paterson (Naomi Watts).
When Dream House begins, it’s safe to assume who the antagonist is going to be. As the film goes on and the plot twist is revealed, we find out our assumption was correct about who the bad guy really is.
There’s no doubt that Dream House does an excellent job of keeping you glued to your seat, mostly due to the excellent cast, which also includes Martin Csokas (The Lord of the Rings, The Bourne Supremacy, Kingdom of Heaven). The story itself was simple to execute, therefore not requiring much effort from this amazing set of actors. It’s easy to see why this film wasn’t very successful, though I myself rather enjoyed it.
Overall, Dream House is definitely worth watching, if anything to see how the story unfolds.