Dream House is the tale of a family man, Will Atenton (Craig), who quits his job as an editor in Manhattan to write the great American novel at a rustic but expensive home in picturesque Connecticut. There, he lives with his wife, Libby (Weisz) and his two cute-as-button young daughters.
Yet Will/Peter is certain he would never kill his beloved family. He senses that the key to what really happened to his loved ones resides with a neighbor, Ann Patterson (Watts), who has been battling with her estranged husband for custody of their daughter.
One of them involves an authentically disturbing sequence wherein Will’s children begin to spontaneously manifest the bloody symptoms of the gunshot wounds that killed them. If you are a parent, you’ll find this moment utterly horrifying. It’s downright traumatic, and expertly vetted.
For example, there are many scenes here which nicely stress the gulf between idealized self and real life, perfect life vs. shattered life. We see it in the décor of the house, which zips back and forth between looking idyllic and dilapidated. We can see it in Will himself, who changes hair-dos and fashion sense whenever he becomes Peter. This is an interesting conceit, and yet the movie doesn’t really want to go with it. It would rather tell a The Fugitive (1993)-styled story of a man falsely accused of murder than the story of a man who, by necessity of psychological trauma, became two people.