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Blu-ray Review: Dream House (2011)

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Written by Senora Bicho

Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) decides to leave his high level publisher job in Manhattan and start over in a small town with his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and their five-year-old and seven-year-old daughters. He hopes to spend more time with his family and write a book. They start to get settled into their idyllic fixer-upper when weird occurrences begin. The youngest daughter is afraid of the house and claims to see a man watching from outside. Will then stumbles upon a group of teenagers holding a strange ritual in the basement.

Soon, he discovers that five years earlier the house was a murder scene where a mother and two children were killed. The father was a shooting victim as well but also the number-one suspect. As Will begins to investigate these tragic events, he learns that he might somehow be tied to them. Ann Paterson (Naomi Watts), their divorced next-door neighbor, who is in the middle of a nasty custody battle with her ex-husband (Marton Csokas), is the only person in town willing to talk about the murders and help Will find out the truth.

Craig, Weisz, and Watts are believable in their performances. Craig gives an emotional range which is the highlight. Being a happy family man is not a normal part for him and it is nice to see him explore something a little different. The film benefits from a beautiful setting and from a great look thanks to director of photography Caleb Deschanel, it has equal parts of light and dark which help create the different moods.

Unfortunately, the cast deserves a stronger and smarter story than what they are given. Dream House is a murder mystery with a haunted-house twist. The problem is that neither aspect works particularly well. There are two main twists that are the heart of the tale. The first twist is fairly obvious, especially because of the trailers, but it is interesting watching it unveiled. However, once it is revealed the second twist, which solves the murders, isn’t overly shocking. Additionally, being a heavy crime watcher I found the resolution rather ridiculous and nonsensical.

The video has been given an 1080p/AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.40.1. Colors look good and blacks are deep. Some scenes offer sharp focus and great details while others run a little soft. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is a serviceable experience though a bit subdued for a thriller. Ambiance plays in the surrounds but doesn’t immerse the viewer.

The disc comes with a few bonus features. “Building the Dream House” is a short making-of featurette focusing on the creation of the house in many different reiterations, and the even-shorter “Burning Down the House” focuses on its destruction. “The Dream Cast” is a six-minute piece highlighting the cast including interviews of everyone saying how great everyone is. “A Look Inside” is a an overall behind-the-scenes look at the film. The Blu-ray disc also includes access to the BD-Live Center, and the pocket BLU app allows viewers to access features and content through their smartphones and tablets.

Interestingly, director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) wanted his name taken off of the film due to clashes with the Morgan Creek Productions in regards to the script and overall production. Sheridan, Craig, and Weisz were so displeased with the final cut of the film that they did not do any promotion for it. I really wanted to like this film, unfortunately, it just doesn’t come together.

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