Daniel Craig, having shared time on screen with Harrison Ford this summer, now seems ready to follow even more closely in the rugged action star’s footsteps by imitating his mid-to-late-career shift (an end-around fake at best) into a surprising genre: family thriller/horror. Dream House, a left-field turn also for director Jim Sheridan (In America), more faithfully adheres to Hitchcockian rules of suspense than What Lies Beneath did, but it works because it mirrors the slightly off-kilter approach adopted by Marc Forster in Stay. Nothing about this House feels like a real stable home. Everything and everyone is trying too hard.
Will Atenton (Craig) quits his publishing job so that he can spend more time at home with his lovely wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and their two children, but was he ever a functioning part of either his work or home life? Is he simply struggling to adjust to his new situation as a stay-at-home husband/father/writer, or is his new home haunted by the ghosts of another family possibly murdered by the surviving husband/father who looks a lot like Atenton?
You question and doubt him and the entire architecture of his world, which, of course, means that it all has to be a dream, right? Well, yes, but all dreams of this type are just puzzles with lost or misunderstood pieces in need of retrofitting. While lacking the jolting, character-upending twists of What Lies Beneath, Sheridan and Craig rely more on sentimental family ties to make its dreams come true. Grade: B-
Opens wide Sept. 30.