It’s like a dream house if your dream house were a single story ranch style with flat faded green carpet from the nineteen seventies, that smells mildly of cigarettes and rebellion, nostalgic maybe, the kind of house that your parents’ friends lived in when you were four and visited for football games.
I guess anyone can put together a psychological thriller with the right grab bag of horror tropes.
The mainmost trope has been done: Dude living an idyllic life who finds out he’s actually kind of a hallucinating nutty psycho killer.
No spoilers — it’s in the trailer and even the first ten minutes if you’re sharp. If you’ve seen Number 23 and Shutter Island you’ll be set to smell it by now.
The biggest problem with this was that the film walked an hesitant line that didn’t know whether it was a twist movie or trying to establish a premise and build from it into something fresh and new. Obviously you can’t recycle another “You’re actually crazy and YOU did it!” Twist, and so this movie from the first scene demanded something more. Yet the characters’ painfully obvious realization took a good two thirds of the movie and drained me of all my enthusiasm and steam, leaving the final pieces to fall together in a kind of clumsy, tacked-on feel that had me checking my watch.
It’s clear the director knows little about horror storytelling, occasionally descending to a flickering, burning wallpaper imagery that felt as tacked on as the rest of the narrative elements. The rest was just close ups of Daniel Craig’s scruffy face and blue eyes. Big. Blue..
Speaking of — the acting is there; Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz really landed their punches in exactly the way they should have. There was a magical feel to this family, which was ultimately the point. And the ideas are there, but that’s it’s ultimate failure, a failure to commit to a good story.
I’ve been writing a psychological thriller intently since June. I know the metaphorical, symbolic, allegorical, and narrative-twisting possibility in blurring reality beyond just realizing what is true and how you can move past it (or not). And so it’s another Hollywood flick that fails to get off the runway. I mean, how much room there could be to get inside this characters head, to blur reality with memory and writing and imagination and the supernatural into one tangled mess that only means something in what lies just beneath the surface; be that in the mystery of the plot or some kind of deeper, perhaps familial statement.
The pieces are there, but this one should have percolated for a couple more years to give the story, the writing, and the directing some real vision.