September has a reputation for being a Hollywood dumping ground.
And yet, THIS September, I’ve felt like Ralphie’s teacher during the daydream sequence of “A Christmas Story”, skipping around the room, joyously handing out A++++++s to every movie that came along. “Contagion”, “Drive”, “Moneyball”, “50/50”. All scored grades in the A range with me. It’s literally been a month since I handed out a grade less than an A-. And it’s not just me, the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score in that bunch is an 84 (“Contagion”). The other three are all in the 90s.
So I’d like to begin by thanking “Dream House” for restoring some sense of normalcy to my Hollywood calendar.
By not being very good.
I’m not going to spoil this movie for you. If you’re seen the trailer, though, or hell… even if you’ve thought about the title, you know that this is one of those, “Is he dead? Is he crazy? Is this real?” type movies. Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) and his family move into a new house in a quiet suburbs. He’s taken an early retirement package in order to spend time with his wife and two girls. Things very quickly take a turn for the surreal, however.
I want to be sure you know the emphasis in that last sentence should be on the “very quickly”. There’s a whole subgenre of these types of movies, and honestly, you get used to a certain pace. There’s a long stretch where nothing is out of the ordinary, then there’s the cracks in the mirror phase, followed by the batshit crazy period, and finally the grand revelation of the Dead, Crazy or “Hooked up to a machine” answer, and then the credits roll. The End.
But here, there was really very little “Normalcy” before the “Cracks in the Mirror” started showing, and we were into the “Batshit Crazy” phase within like the first hour. I was like, huh, what? How long is this movie? 80 minutes? (92 actually)
No, the producers were in a rush because they had someplace much more… mundane to get to. Who wants to see all this psychological, supernatural suspense mumbo jumbo anyways? The “what the hell is going on” phase of this movie is entered into and resolved with a good 20-30 minutes left of the film. A full final third. And the cookie cutter third act they use doesn’t do any favors to the already kind of bland first two acts.
There’s really no “twists” at all in this movie. Pretty much everything has a blinking road sign in front of it, and without the surprises, you’re left with the drama… which wasn’t all that great. Atop of which, Scooby and Shaggy could solve the whodunnit here without Velma, Fred and Daphne. (Rhi Row Rho Riddit!) In other words, it’s not that hard to figure out.
There’s not much here to recommend, but don’t let the 6% on Rotten Tomatoes fool you. It wasn’t THAT atrocious. It just was kind of blah, without a lot to recommend. If you ever catch up to it on a cable channel or something, I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Just don’t go out and pay for it.