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    Movie Review: Dream House a Ramshackle Nightmare

    Dream House Universal

    Review in a Hurry: Irish director Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father) has made some missteps before, from casting 50 Cent as a dramatic lead in Get Rich or Die Tryin' to the tone-deaf racial stereotyping of In America. But Dream House, a would-be thriller starring Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts, is so misbegotten and awkward that one has to assume there was some serious after-the-fact tampering by a committee of lunatics.

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    The Bigger Picture: Though marketed as a horror movie, it's not hard to imagine that this film started life as a more contemplative drama, until someone—probably not Sheridan, who along with the leads isn't doing any press for the movie—decided that adding in a couple of (admittedly effective) cheap shocks and an incongruous ending would make it easier to sell to teens who don't know better. Weisz and Craig made a love connection on the set, but amorous feelings toward the final product are in short supply.

    The real-life newlyweds play Will and Libby, a nice couple with two young daughters, who seem ready to settle happily into a country home after Will quits his big-city office gig to write a novel. But while the family are as non-dysfunctional as one could hope for, their place of residence is not: It seems the prior tenant murdered his family, which arouses suspicious looks from the locals and cult-like fascination from some hilariously stereotypical "goth" teens straight out of central casting.

    Most of the trailers have already given away a significant mid-point plot development that causes Will to question the truth of the situation. If you haven't been spoiled yet, all we'll say is that "reality" turns out to be far more ridiculous and implausible than "fantasy," and the movie isn't smart enough to be ambiguous in a way that might justify its choices.

    The shame of it is that Craig, Weisz, and Watts give it their all, and real-life sisters Taylor and Claire Geare are perfectly cast as the girls. But when the story isn't spinning its wheels doing absolutely nothing (which is most of the time), it's insulting your intelligence and defying its own logic.

    The 180—A Second Opinion: Well, Daniel Craig does a bathtub scene. And takes his shirt off a couple of times. There are more than a few people who enjoy that.

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