No dreams, but definitely some snores

By Jeff Shedden
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3 stars out of 5

It’s usually a bad sign when a horror film is given a PG-13 rating. Luckily, ‘Dream House’ was merely marketed as horror when it is instead a suspense/thriller that suffers from wasted potential. Oddly enough, this may be its saving grace.

The film starts off innocently enough, with Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) and family discovering that they’ve moved into the stereotypical “murder house,” with a striking similarity to “The Amityville Horror.” A man named Peter Ward apparently murdered his wife and children and was committed to a mental hospital. There are no ghosts in this house, though.
The Atenton family is soon being stalked by a mysterious, hooded figure. Will discovers that Peter Ward has been released and is now living in a halfway house. Will is almost run down by a psycho in his own yard, but police and neighbors are reluctant to help. He finally decides to take matters into his own hands.
The major problem is in the way the story is put together. The movie is marketed as a scary movie, but the only real thrills are a couple of jump scares, one of which is in the trailer. There’s even a big twist that would make Shyamalan weep with envy, except for the fact that it too is given away in the trailer.
Most people will figure out who the villain is within 15 minutes, even if the movie tries to make you think otherwise. The issue is with a huge rookie mistake in which they introduce a real bastard of a character, give him a short scene all by himself, and then never mention him again, like a bad episode of Scooby-Doo.
I saw this film under bad auspices, and don’t have high hopes for its earnings. I saw it on opening day at the very first showing, and  was literally the only person in the theater. I realize that just after lunchtime on a Friday isn’t going to have a huge turnout, but I didn’t expect tumbleweeds. They actually started cleaning the theater about halfway through.
“Dream House” had a lot of potential, and perhaps a director’s cut will eventually show up and deliver a satisfying film. The movie needed careful assembly with razor sharp tools, but instead it seemed to have been bludgeoned together with the back end of a Tonka dump truck. It’s a nice puzzle with pieces that don’t quite fit, but are forced together anyway.