(director: Jim Sheridan; screenwriter: David Loucka; cinematographer: Caleb Deschanel; editors: Barbara Tulliver/Glen Scantlebury; music: John Debney; cast: Daniel Craig (Will Atenton), Rachel Weisz (Libby Atenton), Naomi Watts (Ann Patterson), Elias Koteas(Boyce), Marton Csokas (Jack Patterson), Taylor Geare (Trish), Claire Astin Geare (Dee Dee), Rachel Fox (Chloe Patterson), Bernadette Quigley (Heather Keeler); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: David Robinson/James G. Robinson/Ehren Kruger/Daniel Bobker; Morgan Creek/Universal; 2011)
“Turned out so bad Sheridan wanted his name removed from the credits.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The talented Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan (“My Left Foot”/”In The Name of the Father”) directs a misfire ‘haunted house’ horror pic. It’s set in the upscale community of Fairfield, Connecticut. Writer David Loucka lets the film’s weirdness speak for itself (but whatever he wrote was re-worked by the moronic studio heads and his script bit the dust).
The film turned out so bad Sheridan wanted his name removed from the credits. But this bomb sticks with him even if you can’t blame him for the mess. Blame the meddling suits at Morgan Creek for sucking the air out of the psychological thriller and turning it into a graphically violent exploitative film. Hotshot NYC publishing editor Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quits a great job to relocate to a dream house in the suburbs with his attractive wife Libby (Rachel Weisz), and two little girls (sisters Taylor and Claire Geare). They settle in an idyllic small town in Connecticut to write his great novel and to spend more time with the growing family. After moving, the yuppies discover they failed to research the house’s history, as five years before a bloody triple-murder of the residing family took place.
This begins a series of clunky scare scenes, as we observe a motley crew of goth-punk teens holding seances in the basement of his house. This is followed by an unknown intruder threatening the patriarch in his driveway, his house watched by suspicious strangers, and no help from his neighbors or the cops. The writer further investigates the murders, and contacts his attractive neighbor Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts). She was close to the murdered family and knows things but is reluctant to talk. And so it goes, with more cheap scares, flashbacks and a reveal.
Tension is gone when the story awkwardly shifts gears and changes from a haunted house story to an inert psychological thriller, as the bowdlerized version just couldn’t cut it story-wise–but the acting was fine even if everything else wasn’t.
REVIEWED ON 7/30/2018 GRADE: C https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/