Bad dream house

Teasers spoil what could’ve been a suspenseful horror-thriller

Hello walls.

Hello walls.

Dream House
Starring Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz. Directed by Jim Sheridan. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 3.0

Used to be (for me, at least) that watching the handful of trailers before the feature started was an integral part of the movie-going experience. At their best, they were works of art in their own right, teasing the prospective audience that the movie they were about to watch could in no way measure up to the epic movie-making they’d have to wait to see at some later point. At their worst, they were boring.

But somewhere along the line, the studios decided that the mouthbreathers preferred to know everything about the movie before they could be bothered to plunk down their lunch money. Everything.

If you’ve seen the so-called teaser for this latest James Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father) effort, you’ve seen Dream House. Just in one very condensed form. It’s like getting the sex without the formalities of a date. If you haven’t seen the trailer, I’ll try to dance with you here without getting grabby.

Former editor Will (Daniel Craig) is crossing the threshold to living the good life. He’s left behind the big city to move with wife Libby (Rachel Weisz, who has a terrific chemistry with Craig, her real-life husband) and a pair of adorable daughters (real-life siblings Taylor and Claire Geare) into a small-town fixer-upper that looks like something straight out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. That’s probably not a good sign right there. There is a certain uneasiness that goes with moving into a remote, unfamiliar house, especially one that carries the obligatory Ugly Past, and red flags start popping up immediately.

Five years earlier it seems that the father of the previous tenants went all Amityville and whacked his family on the upper landing. The spooked-looking neighbor (Naomi Watts) isn’t forthcoming with the details, any more than the local cops are. And it seems that the suspected killer has just been set loose from the local nut hatch to lurk about, watching the house from the fringe of woods. Sounds pretty familiar, right? Yeah, for about half the running time, Dream House plays with all the conventions and tropes that you’d expect from something like this. And then …

Well, and then it shifts gears. If you’ve seen the trailer, that’s the point where you’d go, “Well, yeah.” If you haven’t seen the trailer, then you’d probably go, “WTF?” (Though there are some clues to what’s coming.) Where it starts and where it ends evoke two other movies I’ve seen, but ID’ing them would be a spoiler in itself.

Damned if I know how successful the transition would be if I hadn’t seen the trailer, because I did.