AVS Forum banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

Blu-ray Reviewer
15,095 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Universal - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 92 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: VC-1
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Marton Csokas, Elias Koteas
Directed by: Jim Sheridan
Music by: John Debney
Written by: David Loucka
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 31, 2012

"What if the mystery you're trying to solve is your own?"

Film Synopsis:

Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quit a high-profile job in Manhattan to relocate his wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz), and their two daughters to a quaint New England town. But as they settle into their new life, they discover their perfect home was once the murder scene of a mother and her children. When Will investigates, he's not sure if he's seeing ghosts or if the tragic events are somehow related to his past. The only clues come from his mysterious neighbor, Ann (Oscar®-nominee Naomi Watts), who helps him piece together this haunting puzzle.

My Take:

Dream house opens with Will Atenton (Craig) leaving his job as an editor (of some type) with plans to write a book and spend more time in the bosom of his loving wife and two young daughters in the new suburban home. They are happy and close knit but it isn't long before Will notices that something is amiss. The neighbors and locals look at him with an unspoken disdain and there appears to be an ominous aura surrounding the house as well the appearance of a dark stranger watching them. This leads Will to ask questions around town where he learns that a triple murder, involving the family (a mother/wife and two children), living in the house before them occurred with the father being the culprit and subsequently being committed to a local psychiatric hospital. With the ominous occurrences beginning to escalate and fearing for the safety of his family Will digs deeper into the mystery surrounding the horrific triple murder. What he finds takes him on a journey down the rabbit hole into the past of a man that couldn't be any closer to him if her were standing in his own shoes. The real question is who is he and what happened??
I have heard complaints from those who feel that movie trailers tend to give away too plot points/details that can sometimes spoil the film experience. In general I don't feel that is the case, but acknowledge that there is a delicate balance that must be maintained between pertinently alluring and spoiling, even minimally so. When I saw the trailer for Dream house in the theater last year I remember thinking that for a movie billed as a haunting mystery thriller it contained what appeared to be too many revealing facts about the plot. The premise certainly wasn't new but the headlining cast was enough to pique my interest but not to the point of making a trip to the theater so I waited for it to come to home video. Dream house is a mystery/thriller to be sure however the trailer would lead one to believe to it also contains aspects of horror, which traditionally speaking it doesn't. The script is written in an unfolding narrative style that would appear to be designed to lure viewers in for a series of revealing twists fueled by suspense/intrigue. Unfortunately the trailer gives away what I would describe as a major plot point/twist.

Much of the early parts of the story are left to flounder because knowing what's really going on deflates the validity of the proceedings. Beyond that point the plot shifts a bit as Will struggles to come to terms with what he now knows. That opens the door for the final reveal (not previously given away) which I would guess is more so intended to be the surprising twist. Unfortunately I found it be a little trite and bordering on nonsensical. Purporting to be a mind bending mystery/horror/ thriller I found Dream house to be disappointing. Firstly, it's not suspenseful or scary and secondly, much of the mystery is removed thanks to the over revealing trailer. The end result is a slow moving genre film that is left to rely on a third act that descends into a series of silly explanations that effectively remove any viable connection that might have been established earlier. I did enjoy watching the cast at work though. Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, and Daniel Craig are engaging to watch. I must say that both Marton Csokas, and Elias Koteas, two excellent character actors, are properly cast but for their contributions seriously underused. I would say that if you have seen the trailer for Dream house you will probably come away from it feeling cheated. If you haven't you have a better shot at enjoying the first two acts with nothing being able to resurrect the pitiful finale.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence, terror, some sexuality and brief strong language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 86

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Dream house comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios HE featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 Mbps.

This film utilizes a dark and cooler chromatic aesthetic style that doesn't lend itself to overly vibrant colors and high gloss video quality. There are instances where brighter elements/deeper color extension are utilized and the contrast allows them to pop visually. Otherwise onscreen images predominantly lean toward darker color schemes, and grittier textures that provide the look that the filmmakers use to drive the story's components. This is done to good effect. Shadow delineation is quite good and revealing of subtle details within dark backgrounds and low lighting which enhances visual depth. Good contrast and stable black levels allow scenes containing mixed content to appear gradationally satisfying with crisp whites and dark dynamic highlights. Resolution is discerning as images are characterized by intricate and definitively rendered detail that gives the video appreciable dimension and delineated texture. This is the case in all but a few instances where definition softens and doesn't retain the same level of lucidity.

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix does a good job rendering the film's soundtrack. Dialogue has appreciable intonation and clarity which allows even subtle changes in vocal pitch to be appreciable. This is a well balanced audio presentation that quite often engages the entire system. Dynamic range is excellent and the soundstage has an open expression that allows its elements to extend well into the room. Discrete rear channel activity isn't extensive however the surrounds provide an enriching level of immersion at times. The LFE channel reproduces the film's music and extended lower bass frequencies tangible with authority. It should be noted the soundtrack is mixed at lower levels (?) which required me to increase the volume 5db to 6d higher than I normally listen at. I wouldn't say this is a shortcoming since once increased things sound as previously described.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Burning down the house - 3 minute featurette

  • (HD) The dream cast - 6 minute featurette

  • (HD) Building a dream house - 5 minute featurette

  • (HD) A look inside - 2 minute promotional feature

  • (HD) Trailer - 2 minutes

  • My scenes bookmark feature

  • D-Box Motion Code enabled

  • pocket BLU

  • BD-Live

  • Bonus DVD/Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Billed as a mystery/horror/thriller Dream house's potential is wasted thanks to a meandering pace and an average script that is further compromised by a theatrical trailer that once you've seen it removes a bit too much of the mystery. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring excellent audio/video quality and a rather bland assortment of bonus supplements. If you enjoy the work of the cast Dream house is probably worth a rental. If you're looking for a satisfying genre entry (and have seen the trailer) there are better ways to spend 90 minutes.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen

Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

1,190 Posts
Like what Ralph said if you've seen the trailer that was the cliff notes version and probably all you really need to see unless you want to get the detailed version.

Somehow this movie reminded me of Shutter Island in some of the scenes i saw. Good for rental at best imo.


1,539 Posts
Agreed! I tried hard to enjoy this one and it was a huge let down

570 Posts
I want to see this one but at least now I won't have any great expectations--will be a rental for me.

93 Posts
yes - rental for sure (no replay value) - but to me it was worth watching once.

I also had to turn up volume higher than usual as well.
1 - 7 of 7 Posts